‘Someone threw EGGS at me’: Comic’s taste of cruelty during 24-hour wheelchair challenge

This story was originally written for the Daily Star, found here.

A BRITISH improv comedian who made a day-long journey in a wheelchair for charity was shocked to find how difficult getting around could be… and how hostile people can be – even to the disabled.

BIG CHALLENGE: Comic Ian Royce took on the task of being a wheelchair user for 24 hours in the name of the Invictus Games and Help for Heroes. [IAN ROYCE/TWITTER]

Ian Royce, who has taken the stage on X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, started last month taking on personal challenges for charity — his most recent task was to head to the Invictus Games site of Lea Valley Athletics Centre, London, while using a wheelchair for 24 hours.

“Originally the plan was to journey there and back in a wheelchair,” Ian told the Daily Star.

However after being inspired by the BBC Two documentary Countdown to the Invictus Games: Meet the Warriors, he decided to go the full day as a wheelchair user.

Donations made while he made the journey — which he documented in short mobile phone videos uploaded to YouTube — went to the Help for Heroes charity, a UK military charity that helps support and rehabilitate soldiers severely injured in service.

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This entry was posted on November 17, 2014, in Journalism.

Google Doodle: Brazil World Cup & favela culture (June 18)

Google Doodle Brazil World Cup FavelaThis story was originally written for the Daily Express, found here.

THERE is a long-standing link between Brazil and football culture and that’s never been more true than at this year’s World Cup.

As the seventh day of the tournament takes hold, today’s Google Doodle depicts the colourful slums of Brazil, known as favelas.

The Google logo forms part of a brightly-coloured and off-kilter wall of favela houses, with the L represented as someone kicking a football against a building.

Rapidly growing around the edges of Brazilian cities since the 19th Century, favelas sprung up from people moving en masse from rural areas to cities, with little affordable housing.

Brazil is presently one of the most economically unequal countries in the world, with the top 10 per cent of the population earning 50 per cent of the national income.

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Google Doodle: Audrey Hepburn’s birthday (May 4th)

Google Doodle Audrey Hepburn BirthdayThis story was originally written for the Daily Express, found here.

TODAY’S Google Doodle celebrates the 85th birthday of British actress Audrey Hepburn.

The doodle shows a striking black-and-white charcoal sketch of Hepburn – reminiscent of her look in Breakfast at Tiffany’s – on a pink background.

The Google logo is represented in elegant cursive, with small drawings of Hepburn playing and dancing with children from poverty-stricken countries underneath.

Born in 1929 in Brussels, the then Audrey Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston grew up moving between Belgium, England and the Netherlands, dealing with German occupation during the Second World War.

Her parents were both involved with the British Union of Fascists, and her father became a Nazi sympathiser.

However, it was his infidelity (with the family nanny) that caused him to separate from the family. He remained emotionally detached even after the war, but stayed in contact with Audrey.

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Google Doodle: St George’s Day (April 23rd)

Google Doodle St Georges Day

This story was originally written for the Daily Express, found here.

TODAY’S Google Doodle is an atmospheric illustration of the dragon-slaying Saint George.

To celebrate St George’s Day, the homepage for Google’s UK site has changed to a moody watercolour of a knight facing up to a dragon.

The Google logo can faintly be seen amid the swirls of muted fog in the background.

While St George’s Day is the national day of England, the patron saint is actually of Middle Eastern origin and celebrated by Christian churches across Europe and North Africa.

As such, he’s also the patron saint of many countries including Greece, Portugal, Egypt and Ukraine.

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Tech Talk: Seeing Sounds and the ‘Art Game’

 This feature can also be found at the South West Londoner, here.

Singing Ribbons is a new art installation by Matthew Maxwell for the iPhone generation. A series of paintings consisting of bold stripes of colour can be scanned by a special mobile app that converts each stripe into notes sung by a soprano.

Really, it’s an awesome concept. On a basic level, it’s a great form of interactive art. The works come alive with what you bring to the gallery, and the results leave with you. We are clearly far to prone to forgetfulness to simply remember the exhibit.

From a technological perspective, it takes the idea behind QR codes (Those ‘square barcodes’ that most smartphones these days can read), and explores it in a refreshing way. It’s no surprise that Mr Maxwell works in software, but has an education in fine art.

Beyond that, I think it’s an interesting demonstration of Synaesthesia, though that may not be intentional.

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Tech Talk: Tournament organisers scam clients with unauthorised money-making software

 This feature can also be found at the South West Londoner, here.

A hidden function in globally used anti-cheating software generated almost $4,000 for an e-sports company, statements revealed this week.

The E-Sports Entertainment Association (ESEA) distributed the program for users who would be competing in tournaments, but within the code was a function that uses computer processing power to earn a digital currency called Bitcoins.

Users noticed that their computers were running slower and electricity bills had increased, complaining on the ESEA website about the issue.

One of the website staff members, known as ‘lpkane’, issued an initial statement to the queries.

He mentioned that it was an idea between him and another staff member, ‘jaguar’, to implement the function as an April Fool’s joke.

He said: “Jaguar and I were talking about how cool it would be.”

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Full speed ahead for Northern Line extension from Kennington to Battersea Power Station

This news item can also be found at the South West Londoner, here.

Plans to extend the Northern Line from Kennington to Battersea Power Station have moved a step closer after TFL finalised their budget for the work.

The ‘NLE’ project, which will also include an intermediary stop at Nine Elms, has been in planning since 2009, and aims to be completed by 2015.

When the project started, an allotted budget of £1bn was set and present cost projections are around £998m.
A public survey found that around three quarters of the responses to this were positive or neutral, many approving of the increased public transport accessibility.

A report from TfL states that key issues to come out of the survey relate to possible noise and vibrations for buildings above the route. Around 1000 property owners and occupiers may be directly affected.

The London Borough of Southwark is calling for Kennington to be re-designated as a Zone 1 station once the extension is complete.

Since carrying out the survey, TfL have consulted with community groups and heritage experts in Kennington on how to proceed with any above-ground construction.
Alongside the preparations for the rail extension, Battersea Power Station has had £400m invested to turn it into a leisure hub for the area.

SP Setia, the largest property group in Malaysia, purchased the land alongside other company partners.
The structure has had various renovation plans in the past (including becoming a football stadium and a hotel), but they all succumbed to funding problems.

The completed complex is aiming to include a block of luxury flats, shops, eateries, a gym, and a revitalised public park.

Work on the Power Station is scheduled to start this autumn, concluding in 2016, although preliminary preparations have already started.

The success of the Power Station’s reopening is likely to depend heavily on the increased accessibility from the rail extension.

Feminist comedian to take centre stage at Wandsworth Arts Festival

This feature can also be found on the South West Londoner, here.

Rosie Wilby has been putting in an appreciated queer feminist angle into stand-up, music and filmmaking since she was at university, and her experiences are coming together in her new performance at the Wandsworth Arts Festival this Thursday.
Called Nineties Woman, she talks about her self-identification as a feminist and the newspaper she worked on at university, in a mash up of live performance and documentary.
Studying at the University of York, the campus fostered a wide range of student publications, and started working on Matrix, a ‘zine’ for women.
Zine culture (short for ‘fanzine’) revolves around amateur production magazines dedicated to specific interests. Because of the low barrier to entry, it meant that people who felt that their demographic or interests weren’t reflected in professional media could still get their voices heard.
“It was very much put together in a lo-fi DIY style which seems appropriate, as there was a huge fanzine scene at the time which has now come back,” she said.
Matrix featured a mixture of heavy topics of body image and sexual harassment, but also had cartoons.
At the time, the riot grrrl movement was popular in the feminist scene and heavily related to zine culture. Taking a harder, punk rock edge, riot grrrl media focused heavily on sexuality and empowerment in a counter to the endless reams of boy band pop at the time.
“We weren’t really listening to riot grrl bands when we put [Matrix] together,” said Rosie. “It was more folk lesbian acts like the Indigo Girls.
“When I got to London after graduating, I realised that some really exciting challenging musical things were going on.”
Beyond Nineties Woman, Rosie Wilby works in her self-identity into most of her stand up. She said that, coming from a generation where being gay defined who you were and the company you kept, it featuring in her comedy was inevitable.
She noted that things have changed and sexuality isn’t so much of a core identity issue these days which, in her opinion, is both a good and bad thing. Still, she wants to keep her stand-up accessible to everyone, regardless of sexuality and gender.
“Love is universal, after all,” she said.
Outside of her performances, Rosie is still heavily involved in queer media. Back in 2011, she co-wrote and co-stared in The Bride and Bride, shown at the BFI Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Her radio show, Out in South London, was one of the sponsors for this year’s festival.
She said: “I enjoyed it, particularly the widening focus to include more trans and gender queer work. Though this may mean they need to change the name of the festival.”
In the future, Rosie looks forward to a resurgence of queer voices in media, both from zines and larger-scale publications. She said that a mixture of both in-depth writing was needed among more lifestyle and entertainment publications, though they still have their place.
Out in South London airs on Resonance 104.4FM every Tuesday at 6.30pm

High Street Blues: Balham residents voice concern over rise of betting shops

This feature can also be found on the South West Londoner, here.

“Balham is my ‘village’ and I use it daily for shopping, dining and community engagement,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick of Fieldhouse Road, Balham.

“The addition of yet another betting shop will add nothing positive.”

He’s talking about a planning application submitted by Coral Bookmakers on May 2. The proposed location is on Balham Station Road, replacing a dry cleaners and directly next to The Moon Under Water pub.

What’s more, a gambling arcade, Cashino, is just down the road. The close proximity of these businesses is giving both shop owners and residents a cause for concern.

Have you recently noticed an increase in certain types of stores on your high road? Odds are, you’ve seen new charity shops, betting shops and chicken take-aways sprouting everywhere. It’s no coincidence, it’s happening all across Britain.

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Fulham pub closes after feeling unfairly targeted by police

The full page for this story is available here. (Quark will only export as a .pdf, apologies.)

A pub on Goldhawk Road has closed after being met with heavy licensing restrictions, despite members of staff feeling they have been unfairly targeted.
The Raving Buddha, specialising in live DJ and open mic nights, held their last event, a ragga and dancehall night, on Saturday 25 May.
The pub, had a ruling on from the Hammersmith & Fulham Council Licensing Sub-Committee. They said that it was ‘associated with serious crime and disorder’; due to police picking up on three separate instances in one month.
The recent incidents included an arrest of a customer wanted for assault who was carrying seven rocks of crack cocaine; two men arrested on a separate incident with Class A drugs; and three arrests in one evening for GBH.
However, one of the bar staff the Raving Buddha feels that the business was unfairly targeted by the police, when there are other pubs on the road which may also suffer from crime.
Natalia Eagle, 21, said “The police bullied us!”
Taking issue with the first incident – the man wanted for assault – she said that the police were at the Raving Buddha by chance, and happened to see their target inside; as opposed to police chasing the man to the pub (which, she claims, the council statement and local news coverage implied).
The man was on a list of people the staff know to throw out on sight, but he was let in by the bar security. The pub has since switched security companies.
Ms Eagle felt that since the Raving Buddha is has fewer resources to defend itself; the police are making an example of them, when there are instances of pub-related problems in other areas.
“They think that this pub is the reason that people do drugs,” said Ms. Eagle. “It’s really stupid and deluded.”
In light of having their License suspended, the Raving Buddha was given strict guidelines to follow in regards to CCTV usage and customer entrance numbers.
While the council do uphold that venues in the borough should follow key licensing objectives, the scrutiny that Raving Buddha was put under is a unique instance.
Nearby pub, the Walkabout Inn on Shepherds Bush Road, is also known by the police to have violent customers and now does not open on Sundays, following a policy change in February imposed by the police.
Other pubs on Goldhawk Road have been closed down over the last year. The Goldhawk Tavern was closed last November, and was reportedly sold to a developer to become offices; though no change has yet been made.
The Grand Union pub at the end of Goldhawk Road has been closed for the last year after relocating to a new venue in Wandsworth. The land has since been bought, and there are plans to turn the venue into a European gastropub, to open in late May. There is little visible sign of refurbishment on the site.