Friday, September 30th, 2016 01:48 pm
The Rosetta mission to Comet 67P came to an end today, with the orbital spacecraft landing on the surface of the comet and switching off.


Cartoon of Rosetta with its busted solar panels, clutching its Mission Achievements log. *sniff*


Cartoon of the Philae lander going to sleep forever on the comet's surface. *wibble*

Poll #17682 Rosetta's Grand Finale
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 16


The saddest cartoon spacecraft image ever is:

View Answers

Rosetta with its busted solar panels, clutching its Mission Achievements log
6 (46.2%)

Philae going to sleep forever on the comet's surface
7 (53.8%)

I shed a tear over Rosetta's demise.

View Answers

Yes, I did. I'm not ashamed.
7 (46.7%)

That's cometary dust. Dust, I tell you.
5 (33.3%)

Yes, but that's a tear of rage because now the aliens will find our space junk and come to DESTROY US.
0 (0.0%)

I have no idea what you're talking about, but here, have a tissue.
4 (26.7%)

Friday, September 30th, 2016 11:00 am
Friday, September 30th, 2016 01:25 am
The other night I dreamed I wrote a book and forgot entirely that I had done so. Blocked it out of my head. So when [livejournal.com profile] mrissa said "I read an ARC of your book and it's pretty good" I was utterly confused. And then she said "But there were some problems with the way you portrayed the Middle Eastern market" and I was even more confused. I felt bad that I had committed racefail and I couldn't really fix it because I didn't remember writing it.

Then there was a lengthy dream scene about rolling up RPG characters. The DM wanted us all to have 200 [something] but the base character I picked from the book only had 60 [something] so we agreed that on any day when I was in a bad mood I'd get an extra hit die because I hit harder when I'm grumpy.

We started playing the game, and I guess we were LARPing because I started doing a folk dance with five of the other players. We danced in pairs and I mostly remembered the steps from my country dance days but it was hard to keep track of the steps and play my character at the same time. My dance partner was much better at it than I was and kept gently reminding me not to keep my legs so straight because this was a different era than the one I was used to dancing in.

In character I was snooty with racist undertones to the other characters who were dancing and as myself I felt bad about it. "Feel bad about racism but have plausible deniability" was apparently the dream theme. Ew. >.<

The dream ended with a giant Jewish holiday dinner with lots of friends and friends of friends. [livejournal.com profile] rose_lemberg and [livejournal.com profile] prezzey called to tell us all that they were getting married, except their child actually made the call because he wanted to and they thought it would be fun to let him. It was very sweet. And the more observant Jews at the table taught me some interesting things about holidays and fine points of observance and schisms and so on.

And then I woke up, wondering how I managed to write an entire book and forget.
Thursday, September 29th, 2016 09:11 pm
Have a trio of musical videos on a Lin-Manuel Miranda theme:

"Alexander Hamilton" (opening track to the musical Hamilton) in American Sign Language: absolutely riveting, brilliant use of rhythm, I accidentally fell down a rabbithole of ASL-signed Hamilton tracks of varying skill and production quality after this.  If only I understood ASL, or even BSL (funnily enough searching for BSL-signed Hamilton stuff gets me nowhere, I don't think there's a big enough fanbase here yet). 

"What the Heck I Gotta Do" - opening track to 21 Chump Street: a 14-minute musical about an undercover drugs officer and the high school student who fell in love with her.  The full video used to be on youtube and vimeo but I failed to find it again; also the cast album is available from the usual digital marketplaces.  It's ridiculously earwormy,, which means I find myself singing songs ALL DAY LONG that remind me how much I disagree with the War on Drugs, and I'm Not Doing Politics for at least another year, damnit.

"Usnavi's KX rap" - a promotional video for In The Heights at the King's Cross Theatre, which I saw last Saturday and will write more about when this dratted essay is done.  (Short version: I really, really liked it, and that video gives you something of a feel for it.)

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 01:22 pm
I grew up in Honolulu. I was one of the youngest of a large group of cousins, most of whom are male and Filipino, apart from my mom’s sister’s son, who is white. We spent a lot of time together since we all lived pretty close, and my Filipino grandfather (and, until three days before I was born, grandmother) owned a large house that always seemed to have at least two or three aunties and hence vast quantities of delicious food in it (chicken malunggai! pancit! lumpia! suman!) .

I haven’t seen these cousins very frequently since we all became adults. Two of them were in the military for many years. They came to visit us in Monterey on our recent trip to the USA. So before I share the photos from the meals we ate together (because of course there was food, lots of food), here are the photos my parents brought of us as children. Most of these were taken at Waimea Falls on the north shore of Oahu.


I’m on the left. The two cousins in the middle came to Monterey over Labour Day weekend. On the far right, holding the camera to his eyes, is the cousin I shall refer to as Big Keiki, because Little Keiki is named after him. Please note matching bowl cuts. Niiice.

+5 )
Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 11:00 am
Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 07:14 pm

Posted by Alix

Bit of easy hit, this one. So, bite me.

My friend Dr Gabe “Legend in his own Lecture Notes” Moshenska, an archaeologist at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, has been roundly traduced by no less organs than the Daily Mail and the Spectator Coffee House blog, as follows:

The DM:

…astonishingly, students at one of Britain’s leading universities have been given permission to walk out of classes if they find dealing with the past too traumatic.

The move at University College London (UCL) is the latest example of controversial ‘trigger warnings’, where academics caution students about some potentially disturbing material.

The alerts are common at universities in the United States and are now growing in the UK, but critics have condemned them as ‘madness’.

Students at UCL taking the archaeologies of modern conflict course have been told that they will encounter ‘historical events that may be disturbing, even traumatising’.

If they feel stressed, they can ‘step outside’ for the rest of the class ‘without penalty’, though they should catch up by copying the notes of another student.

Lecturer Gabriel Moshenska, who co-ordinates the UCL course on how archaeology can help unearth the truth about 20th and 21st century conflicts, said some students had been in the Armed Forces and may have suffered psychological trauma.

The Speccie:

Just when you thought the trigger-warning trend on campus couldn’t get any more bonkers it’s reported that archaeology students are being allowed to dodge discussions of ‘traumatic’ historic events. Yes, students  whose entire academic mission is to dig up bones, pore over old stuff and work out what the hell mankind was doing / thinking a thousand-odd years ago are being warned that such excavations can uncover ‘disturbing’ stuff that might ‘traumatise’ them because ‘bones can be scary’. So they should feel free to nip out of class if it gets too much.

Needless to say, the course leader is devastated. I believe he is ordering a t-shirt to express his feelings as we speak. We can only surmise that they uncovered all this dreadful intelligence by rooting through his publicly available course notes. Slow news day? (Really?? Well, I suppose battlefield horror makes a change from wall-to-wall Euro/Trump horror.)

I didn’t take this module when I was doing my Masters at the Institute, but I do remember being shown the bones room as a new student. Maybe I’ve romanticised this experience in retrospect but I do hope not. The bones room looks out over leafy Gordon Square, and the various remains of collectively hundreds of people are quietly filed away in the kind of utilitarian grey 1960s drawer cabinets that now fetch a small fortune on eBay. We all held and looked at bits and pieces of Neolithic, Bronze Age and Medieval individuals and went “Ooh” and “Ah”, as we were wont to do.

And then the collections manager opened another drawer, and we all peered at the well-preserved skeleton within, and the collections manager said, “This person died in 1911 and we’re not sure quite why we have the bones, they came from [I think he said] University College Hospital…” and I was suddenly a bit freaked out, I think we all were. There is something odd about bones, otherwise people wouldn’t be studying it, the whole “we are just meat-covered skeletons powered by ghosts” aspect is to be honest part of the fascination of archaeology (I won’t ever forget my first and so far only experience of watching a burial being uncovered, even though it was of an infant who died over two thousand years ago; I certainly won’t forget eating dinner with the digging team in the barn where we were staying that night with those tiny, crumbly little bones carefully stowed in a plastic biscuit box on a nearby table). And there is particularly something odd about recent bones.

But conflict archaeology is about more than the Recentness of Bones (an easy straw-man to dispose of here; Moshenska’s course module only covers material post-1914 so some of the assertions in the articles linked above are just wildly inaccurate – I doubt any modern archaeologist or student has ever been truly viscerally upset by the remains of people who died “a thousand-odd years ago” and nobody would expect such.) Twentieth and twenty-first century conflict archaeology is about awful events that are still in some sense alive. They live in the memories of people who experienced and survived them, and in the collective cultural memories of nations who are still very much entities, with stakes in how their past is perceived. In a way that runs deep in us, they matter. It really wouldn’t ever under any circumstances bother Brendan O’Neill to confront and discuss and closely study the physical evidence of the Srebrenica massacre of 1995? Well then he’s a lesser man than I am (but then… yeah).

However, my personal goose-over-the-grave shivers are actually beside the point here, they are merely on the edge of the real experience. Moshenska’s disclaimer is important for people who have or may have suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder themselves. From time to time, veterans come to study conflict archaeology at the Institute, because, of course they do. PTSD can be quickly defined as follows:

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, such as sexual assaultwarfaretraffic collisions, or other threats on a person’s life.[1] Symptoms may include disturbing thoughts, feelings, or dreams related to the events, mental or physical distress to trauma-related cues, attempts to avoid trauma-related cues, alterations in how a person thinks and feels, and increased arousal. These symptoms last for more than a month after the event. Young children are less likely to show distress but instead may express their memories through play.[1] Those with PTSD are at a higher risk of suicide.[2]

As I understand it, the important thing about trauma (I am riffing on this book here, thought it’s about developmental childhood trauma rather than trauma incurred as a result of one-off horrific events), is that it is somatic and physical. That is, you can’t stop it just by realising that you are no longer in the traumatic situation and “pulling yourself together”. Or not without a lot of therapeutic work, anyway. Your body chemistry is going its own sweet way, and you may panic, obsess, have racing thoughts, be dysfunctional, be back there. This is all well supported. PTSD was officially recognised as a mental disorder in 1980 when it was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) produced by the American Psychiatric Association, the standard reference work used by all clinicians and researchers working with mental disorders. But its study goes back, obviously, to the “shell-shock” of the First World War (see for example one of the current top experts here).

It’s obviously right that archaeologists, among other specialists, study recent conflict. And it brings with it ethical duties, not only a duty to be aware of the collective societal trauma of the events studied (as a former prehistorian student it obviously pains me to say it, but I totally get why the archaeology of modern remains is different, more immediate, more real), but a duty of care to students who may have very individual traumas of their own.

It’s such a shame this kind of trolling goes on, isn’t it? A shame for everyone. Now, there is perhaps no point talking about trauma to certain people in the right wing press, who are probably sufficiently in denial of their own past traumas to react defensively to the suggestion that trauma exists in real people just like them, in physical, somatic and psychological form. Even (and this is most odd when you think about it) in people who have fought for their country, on whose side you would very much expect the right wing press to be. But it seems important to continue to point out the existence of trauma nonetheless. If more people paid this kind of very basic disclaimer-led respect to the possibility of trauma, it would simply be a happier, kinder world, and one in which frankly we would get more important work done than the work the above journalists have done so far this week, and the work I am doing now.


Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 02:04 pm
For various reasons, I'm planning to reward myself with a very, very long Pokéwalk when I'm in London this week. Are you still playing? Has anyone just started? All types and levels of squee are welcome in the comments.

  • I HATCHED A LICKITUNG! From a 5k egg I picked up in the USA, I think.
  • I also hatched another Vulpix. I’m still not in reasonable candy number/walking distance to a Ninetails, especially with several other candidates that are 5 candies or less from their first evolution.
  • I popped a Lucky Egg and deployed the Spreadsheet of Evolve. I now have: Kadabra, Abrok, Machoke, Primeape, Gloom, Parasect, Graveler and Rapidash.
  • I didn’t even get to the 16 Pidgey evolutions before the Egg ran out, but did them afterward and reached Level 24.
  • I maxed out the Kanto medal with the latest set of evolutions. 102 registered in the Pokédex.
  • Very close to maxing out the Collector (2000 Pokémon caught!), Scientist and Backpacker medals.
  • I now have two Gyarados. So many Magikarp. But it’s worth it because the end result is another beautiful blue dragon. My new dragon is CP1800+ and over 400 kg. Ginormous.
  • Most of the way to silver medals in the following, but assume achieving gold is probably not a sustainable goal: Fisherman, Ruin Maniac, Hiker and Hex Maniac.
  • That said, every time my interest begins to wane, I have a trip to London and I get hooked all over again.
  • I walked my Ponyta for 27 km until I earned a fire unicorn. O gorgeous Rapidash. Such a shame that to stroke your mane and tail is to set one’s hand alight. <333
  • Currently walking my Omanyte. Three candies to Oma-something-or-other!
  • This past weekend I was walking with Keiki in a Poké-rich location. I came across a gym headed by a CP400-ish Pidgeotto and thought, aha, I can take this before Keiki gets bored in his pushchair, so I’ll just have a quick play. No sooner had I installed my Rainer (Vaporeon) atop the gym than a door nearby opened and a boy rushed out. “Was that you?” he demanded. “Er, yes,” I replied, taken aback. “That was my best Pokémon,” he replied, crestfallen. “Oh, um, sorry,” I said. There was a pause. “Tell you what, I’ll drop a lure on that Pokéstop and maybe you can catch something even better.” I did, and he pootled happily back inside, thereby hopefully mitigating the Adult Woman Accidentally Ruins Child’s Day scenario. WHOOPS


(PS I made a thread on [personal profile] littlebutfierce’s A Wild Love Meme Appears. I don’t normally do these things but I could use it right now so if you feel like saying a Nice Thing or two I’d appreciate it, thank you.)
Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 11:00 am
Monday, September 26th, 2016 11:00 am
Monday, September 26th, 2016 02:34 am
I wrote this last year, on October 2:

All the fans and air conditioners and open windows that noisily let us survive the summer are quiet now. The dryer and dishwasher have finished their tasks and fallen silent. The laundry is folded and stowed. The people and cats are asleep, except for me. There is such contentment in this moment of stillness.

My brain promises me that if I do enough, and if I do it well enough, I will reach a moment of the house being perfect, at which point I can finally relax. My own work on coming to terms with my brain has helped me to expand my definition of perfection. There are little untidinesses around me, to be sure, and I'll tidy a few of them before bed; but those untidinesses also make a house a home. I don't want to live in a museum exhibit. I want to live in a place where the stray bits of cat fur and scratched-up furniture remind me of our adorable cats, and J's shirt draped over a chair and X's water bottle abandoned on the corner of the table remind me of my marvelous spouses. Soon there will be toys underfoot, and parts of bottles scattered over the kitchen counter, and tiny mismatched socks in inexplicable places, to remind me of my beloved child. And I will sit in this battered but extremely comfortable chair, and put my mug down on the fluff-attracting but gorgeously vibrant red tablecloth, in my beautiful lived-in home, and it will be perfect.


Tonight I turned off the ceiling vent fan for what is probably the last time this year, and such a beautiful hush fell. I tidied just enough to make the morning easier for J and X, and did a load of laundry mostly out of habit. Now all the machines are silent, and I'm sitting at the table in the comfy broken-in chair, and there are candles casting shimmery golden light on the red tablecloth, and everyone is asleep. There was even a tiny unmatched sock in tonight's laundry.

I was right: it's perfect.
Sunday, September 25th, 2016 10:00 pm
Mr Chilly, North Harrow, London HA1

Evening RGLers! After last week's Good Beer Guide pub deluge, here's what's been happening everywhere else.

Our featured article is for Mr Chilly, who is neither an underprepared arctic explorer nor an anthropomorphised ice cream but a small North Indian restaurant near North Harrow station. Try the biryani!

We've got lots of new articles. Let's kick things off in Morden, with a branch of Wimpy and the Morden Hall Bookshop, which sells second hand books from an old National Trust building in the park. Up the Northern line a few stops is Vijaya Krishna, a South Indian restaurant in Tooting, while back down in the other direction there's Bamboo Basket, a Chinese/Malay tea shop and cafe in Epsom. Ram's in Kenton is a veggie (and Jain-friendly) Indian restaurant that has a buffet with unlimited puri (mmm, delicious carbs), while all the way over in Eltham, the Yak and Yeti does a reasonable lunch deal.

Of course there are some pub updates too: the Duke of York in Surbiton and the Albert Tavern in South Norwood (both owned by Greene King), the Cape bar in Wapping, the Cricketers pub in Croydon (great for tram watching), the Barley Mow in Epsom, the Villiers Arms in Oxhey (as confirmed last week, Oxhey is indeed a real place) and the Railway Tavern in Bexley. I judge it would be quite a challenge to create a (theoretical, even!) pub crawl to visit all seven of those in one day, even though you would be unaffected by the temporary closure of the Gospel Oak to Barking line (it's shut until next February).

Finally, some closures to report: Italian restaurant Tentazoni has moved from Bermondsey to Notting Hill, while the Charlotte in Crayford, the Dover Castle (a Sam Smith's) in Marylebone and the branch of Spirited Wines in Putney have all closed.
Sunday, September 25th, 2016 11:00 am
Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 10:43 pm

Yesterday was spent shuffling furniture about. From a house that's being cleared came seven dining chairs, a dressing table, a small table and some garden furniture. Out went six not very comfortable dining chairs and a cheap chest of drawers. That was fairly simple, although the existing – borderline unsafe – gardening furniture is still here. Whether it'll end up as a pile of decaying wood in the garden for insects or at the recycling centre, I don't know, but having seen some stag beetles in London, it'd be nice to see some here.

A friend down the road got two disassembled wardrobes and a chest of drawers. That involved moving out a chest of drawers and a sort of coffee table sized chest of drawers from one room, then moving an existing wardrobe and chest of drawers from another room into the first room, and leaving assorted bits to assemble in the second room.

Someone's garage now has the 'out' furniture, plus a couple of other things from the cleared house, including a writing desk and a tall rusty metal storage thing that may end up going to London somehow.

Now 'all' that needed to happen was assembling the wardrobes. These are Stag flat pack designs from the 1960s. It was interesting to see that some basic ideas are still used in IKEA etc stuff today. The person who'd broken them down hadn't taken photos of the process of doing that, but helpfully labelled which bit was from which and suggested that I do the simple one first. That might have been sensible except that they'd broken, either in taking them apart or in transport, one critical bit of the base of the more complicated one. A metal combination screw and 'secure this end' part hadn't been removed from the base where it was supposed to hold the middle vertical 'wall' and had broken the base, fortunately at the underneath side.

Fortunately, again, the two bases were identical – presumably it saved money only having one design – so it was possible to use the simple one with its intact screw holes instead. Having started, it seemed a sensible idea to continue with the more complicated one.

Which went fine up until the back. As with many IKEA ones, this uses some thin hardboard with a wood-coloured veneer on one side as the back. With much flat pack furniture, this can't be one sheet of the correct size or the packing box would be too big. So you get it in two or three pieces and join them together. Tape or nails is the current way, depending on whether there's something to nail it to or not. The sides are typically in groves of the real walls.

But for some reason – part of which only became clear later, instead of doing the sensible thing and having two vertical pieces, each roughly the size of one of the doors, it has four horizontal pieces, one smaller than the other. Attempting to stack them on one another failed, even with some duct tape, but then it was then that the use for some odd bits became clear: four bits of woodish stuff, the length the width of the wardrobe but otherwise quite small. And with a grove in two sides. Ah ha, these go on top of one bit of hardboard and hold it in place while proving the base for the next bit. Ah ha2, they have some thing that can be screwed into the sides, behind the hardboard, to keep it all fairly rigid too.

Which would have been great, except that only one of the two screws on the first of the three bars was anywhere near the right place. The other end was too high. There's a limit to how much you can hammer the side of hardboard to get it to go down (it breaks the hardboard if you're not careful!) and no amount of pushing it would get it to the right position. So of course the next layer starts too high, neither screw fits, and you end up not being able to get the top / roof wall on.

It was at this point that I gave up until the new owner came home.

When she did, we decided to do without all but the first bit of hardboard, but just use their support bars instead. I for one have always said that wardrobes shouldn't have a back.* The metal bits that hold the roof on aren't screwed in, so you have to get them just right for them to drop into the holes in the sides. Which isn't easy, given that the roof is much thicker and is the second heaviest bit of the whole thing. Get it wrong, and they drop to either side and then you've got to lift the whole thing again, usually taking the connectors that did get in their holes out and have to do them again too.

Repeat, several times, possibly breaking the base – the middle wall did bend over more than it should have done at one point, until it works.

The doors were almost simple, but there's a lot of work in the almost. You can see where modern door hanging designs come from, but the subtle changes since the 60s mean they are notably better for rehanging doors. These almost properly fit – but do close! – and it's not clear how you would adjust things so they do fit properly. About the only thing I can think of is start again, making sure that everything that is supposed to be a right angle is exactly 90 degrees.

Having done that one, it was going to be much simpler to do the simple (no middle wall) one. And it was! It did have a fixed top shelf that the first one didn't and this was the reason for having horizontal hardboard bits for the back: instead of having the back 'behind' the shelf, the top shelf has the top and bottom grooves for the hardboard. This probably also explains the asymmetrical sizes of the pieces of the hardboard – because you could choose to have this shelf, the last bit had to be the vertical size of the space left underneath the top shelf because that makes the maker's life easier in terms of stock control. As with the base unit, you then only need to have one sort of back.

This time, the three larger bits of hardboard fit (with a little hammering…) and it's only missing a back on the top shelf – there was no way you want the top to slot into that and have the annoying connectors fit too. If it had been lighter, perhaps, but not this lump.

The result worked perfectly in terms of its doors and is a tribute to the quality of the original design. It looks horrid to my eyes, but its new owner is seriously into retro stuff and loves it.

Except that she wanted it on the other side of the room. Push, shove, push. No, it's too big there (it blocked part of the window). One reason for wanting it there is that she wasn't convinced they'd be enough space to open the doors fully because of the bed. But.. push, shove, push.. yes there was. I thought there would be, just, having had a play with an unattached door earlier.

After that, the chest of drawers was simple…

* How else are you going to get to Narnia if they do?

Mirrored from my website's blog, The deranged mad of a brain man.

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 11:00 am
Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 09:42 am
All the usual things, really. Met up with and broke bread with people I consider family. Voted in lots of debates. Went to fringes. However, there are a couple of things that were out of the ordinary:

- I was very proud that Calderdale's anti-racism motion went through (helped along by a barnstorming speech from the amazing Pauline Pearce).

- I was similarly proud that our amendment to the transport motion went through, and it's now officially lib dem policy to support HS3 connecting the north.

- I made a few speeches, but one that was particularly well-recieved was the one on the social security motion. (if you're a license fee payer, you can watch it here for the next 27 days - I'm at 1 hour 40 minutes and 15 seconds in). Sadly conference still voted the motion through, albeit with amendment one removing the commitment to sanctioning people, but I apologise to all my disabled friends that I wasn't able to get it voted down for the commitment to devolve WCA to local councils (several times this was nonsensically referred to from the stage as "abolishing" WCA - like local councils have the money or inclination to run it any better than ATOS or Maximus).

- I co-hosted Glee for the first time. Which was initially terrifying, but actually... lots of fun. And I really genuinely loved seeing all the journos who gladly sing along with stuff while they are there doing their biennial pretending-to-be-outraged-at-Glee articles the morning after.

Lots of other people from Calderdale made speeches too - Mick Taylor, Ruth Coleman Taylor, Sarah Noble and Alisdair Calder McGregor prominent among them - till it got to the point where in a debate on the final day the chair made a joking reference to a constitutional requirement that someone from Calderdale must speak in every debate for it to be valid. While we didn't win every fight, I think we did pretty well. All in all I think we had a pretty good conference.

And now it's back to the real world...
Tags:
Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 10:16 am
Autumnal or vernal, depending on your hemispherical orientation.

Also, it is my birthday and this morning I opened my gifts with two eager assistants. We were all very pleased by the cuddly Jupiter which arrived without sender designation. Mystery sender has since been identified as Dear Friend Josh. \o/


Me, Humuhumu and cuddly Jupiter. Two of the three of us sporting some outstanding bedhead. Photo processed with the "Saturn" filter in Google Photos.
Wednesday, September 21st, 2016 03:53 pm

Posted by Nathaniel Mathews

And so to the Gee Street Court House for my stint as Duty Solicitor, to represent any tenant without a lawyer in the undefended possession list. A list where sometimes there are as little as five minutes a case for the District Judges to decide on who must stay, and who must go, and will live to fight another day.

Alberta has an eviction listed in two hours. A single parent who has had serious abdominal surgery this summer, she has been advised to come off her Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). She is then failed for ESA, told to go back to JSA, then promptly advised by benefit officers to reclaim ESA- which is again refused, apparently when she was having surgery.

The Judge stays the warrant for 2 months.

Bea was rehoused after being shot twice. She used to work with young offenders, more recently as a teaching assistant through an agency. Her income is unstable and in school holidays she is forced to claim Universal Credit. The shiny new benefit that insists on sending you your Housing Benefit (HB) directly to you, not your landlord, every month not every week. The theory is that people with proper jobs get paid monthly and this will teach Bea proper budgeting skills. Yet hers is a weekly tenancy and she is paid by the week, when there is work.

“I wish I had never claimed Universal Credit “ says Bea, who offers to cash in her pension.
Judge and Housing Officer feel sorry and embarassed and case is adjourned generally on payment of rent plus 5 pounds a week. As she leaves, Bea promises to pay off her arrears once the compensation for her injuries arrives- should it arrive.

Charlie worked as bartender and a cashier, always on the edge. He fell apart after he was assaulted and has just gone onto sickness benefits. After waiting for 3 hours he finally has to leave due to an anxiety attack. His housing officer is late and apologetic. There has been a screw-up at head office.
The housing officer agrees to adjourn the hearing for 2 weeks while Housing Benefit adjusts to Charlie’s recently awarded ESA. While we wait to get on he tells me that he is in despair, because the new Housing Act is the death knell for social housing.

Feeling mildly cheerful at only 3 cases I jump on the 55 bus and head back to the office. The sun is up, the air is clear, what could possibly go wrong?

Then I am hit by a blizzard of homelessness.

Danny has lived for years in a fog of mental illness, substance abuse and domestic violence. Every time she has a kid the Council takes the child away. Incredibly, the Council does not think she is vulnerable, so she will be on the street tomorrow. Time to get a Judicial Review cranked up.

Eddy, who is almost 60, interrupts me. She has had a thyroid removed, is diabetic, but does not yet inject insulin, hears voices and is long term depressed. She is on ESA, a fairly stringent benefit that tests functional impairment. The Council says she is not vulnerable, and she will be on the streets quite soon.

Freda is a single mum who has recently given birth. As a European she is required to work to claim Tax Credits and housing. Yet despite her best efforts her zero hours contracts fail to give her the paperwork the Council wants to verify her activities, so she and her baby will be homeless on Friday.

Gary and his family were evicted the day before yesterday. He suffers from mental illness and relies on local services. His kids are in local schools. Yet the emergency accommodation offered is outside London. Terrified of being uprooted, he refuses. The Council appears to have closed his case and will do nothing more to help. The Supreme Court says this is the wrong approach, yet it happens every day.

Helga was found intentionally homeless when she realised that her landlord was going to have her home repossessed because he could not keep up with the mortgage.  She kept the rent moneys so that she could rent somewhere else but could not find a landlord prepared to help benefit claimants, even with the nest egg. She is worried that social workers will take her kid into care in 5 days time because she is homeless.

India left care and started to work in various nurseries. Tragically this success story foundered when due to the various changes in her jobs, the long hours, the delayed HB assessments, she lost the plot, had a nervous breakdown, fell into rent arrears and was evicted. Having been found intentionally homeless by the Council, she may risk her own child being taken into care. She will be homeless in the next few days also.

Jamil worked 30 years in Sainsbury’s and then became too ill to carry on. He’s 60 with various ailments, high blood pressure, depression. He paid into the system all his life and did nothing wrong. Not vulnerable enough it seems. Yet, at the last minute, the Council offers him sheltered housing. Problem is, the offer hasn’t come though yet, and his temporary accommodation was terminated yesterday.

As I foolishly wander by reception Kerry grabs me. Her marital home was sold 8 years ago after mortgage arrears arose, but there was substantial equity left after the mortgage was paid off. She has been homeless, she tells me, for those 8 years because the lending Company have tied her up with paperwork ever since.

All in one damn day. At this point my brain shuts down and I have to leave the rest of the alphabet until tomorrow.

What conclusions can be drawn from a single day?

Is it that I hate the various Councils who have made palpably inhumane decisions about the vulnerability of sick people and are prepared to put them on the streets? Not really. Funding cuts mean there are fewer people working in those Councils, and diminishing properties in London for people of little means. Yet I wish that the wealthier leafy suburbs of West London would stop dumping poor people in East London, abnegating all responsibility, and then turning to their voters with a big smile and telling their voters that the reason that they have lower Council Tax is that they are more efficient. More efficient at turning a blind eye to the disabled, perhaps.

Is it that there are more evictions and more homeless problems but less lawyer to help? Yes. The Legal Aid cuts have meant that in every single one of the cases that I have mentioned a loss of service for people with money problems have pushed the household into homelessness. Yet even though Legal Aid is still there to prevent the roof over your head, fewer lawyers want to do it. The warhorses retire. The colts shy away.

Is it that poor people and people of modest means are being forced out of London? Yes. Those of you who believe that this is healthy expression of the free market, consider. Where will the bartenders and cleaners you rely on live? When you have a stroke, who will change your bedpan?

Is it that Universal Credit is the panacea? No. The machinery so far has transferred HB applications to the Department of Work and Pensions, who have lost every letter that I have written. This does not look promising.

Is it that the Housing Act will fundamentally wreck social housing? Yes. Council Housing will be decimated, which is an expression that is almost always used wrongly. Think 10% of Council Stock being sold off every year without any replacements for those who need homes.

Am I in despair? No.

Against all the odds, with 3 solicitors leaving and awaiting replacements, with our debt adviser breaking his leg at our front door, with our administrator Bella injuring her knee collecting the DX, we have something special.

We have the volunteers. Angharad who was hit by a car on her way to issue a Judicial Review, but issued. Justin, who helped us win 3 asylum cases in one day. Aniko, who persuaded the Council not to call the police when Mrs Angry came to discuss her rent arrears, then got at 3,000 backdated benefit claim. Onuka, who holds the fort.

Welcome to London, the most affluent city on Earth. Welcome to the Jungle.