Katie Wilmot

The ‘Crit’ – How was it for you?

Thank you very much to everyone who contributed to the online questionnaire ‘How was it for you?’ and for sharing your experiences as a student of architecture.  There is lots of data to analyse for my research project ‘Culture Club’ so, for now, let me just share my favourite (and most telling) analytical graphic so far:

Crit_Emotional

Five (or 11) Conservative Concerns

These are my Top 5 concerns that we will have to endure over the next 5 years, as quoted from the Conservative Party Manifesto 2015.  The list is blunt and brief so you might have time to read it, because obviously nobody had time to read the Manifesto in full, right?

Firstly, consider this headline under the ‘Big Society’ commitment within the manifesto (pg.55) as you read all of the following points:

“Our commitment to you: Promote equal treatment and equal opportunity for all in a society proud of its tolerance and diversity”

1.  “We will fund the replacement of properties sold under the extended Right to Buy by requiring local authorities to manage their housing assets more efficiently, with the most expensive properties sold off and replaced as they fall vacant.” – pg.52

Firstly, Right to Buy – that is fine if you can also ‘Afford to Maintain’ – think about it.

As for selling off the most expensive local authority (LA) properties – that is a fairly blatant form of social cleansing.  It will create great pockets of wealth.  It restricts choice for home owners and renters (private or social), because they will be priced out of certain markets through the manipulation of state assets.  The further Conservative pledge to build one home in the same local authority for every home that is sold is, quite simply, never going to happen.  The Government can not stick to housing targets as it is.  For further thoughts, read ‘Is it right to buy?’.  Also read this article about the uprooting of LA tenants in London (Independent). And this one (Guardian). And this one (Evening Standard).  And this one (Independent). And this interview with Michael Gove (Jon Snow, Channel 4).

2.  “…We will make our economy more inclusive, by removing barriers that stop women and disabled people from participating in our workforce.” – pg.17, and “Last year alone, 140,000 disabled people found work. But the jobless rate for this group remains too high and, as part of our objective to achieve full employment, we will aim to halve the disability employment gap: we will transform policy, practice and public attitudes, so that hundreds of thousands more disabled people who can and want to be in work find employment.” – pg.19.

Well these were just lies.  On Friday 8th May, the day after the election, potential cuts to the disabled work access scheme were announced by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).  This, to be blunt, is discrimination – it is ‘selected equal opportunities’. For a bit more coverage, read this article (Independent). And this one (BBC). And this one (RT).

3.  “We will protect hunting, shooting and fishing, for all the benefits to individuals, the environment and the rural economy that these activities bring.  A Conservative Government will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote, with a government bill in government time.” – pg.23

I don’t think I need to say much about this one.  Hunting and shooting for the purposes of sustainable farming is one thing.  But in this instance, I smell a fish, or rather, a fox.  For further info read these comments (Independent / Ricky Gervais).  And this one (Guardian).

4.  “…cut Income Tax for 30 million people and take everyone who earns less than £12,500 out of Income Tax altogether. That means by the end of the decade, one million more people on the lowest wages will be lifted out of Income Tax, and people who work for 30 hours a week on the increased National Minimum Wage [6.70] will no longer pay any Income Tax at all.” – pg.27

Nobody aspires to earn less than £12,500 or work 30 hours a week on minimum wage (equating to a salary of £10,542) because IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO LIVE ON.

5.  “We will then put these changes to the British people in a straight in-out referendum on our membership of the European Union by the end of 2017.” – pg.30

I don’t have the brain or paper space to interpret how utterly devastating I think it would be if we left the EU.  To go back on decades of hard work, negotiation and progression would, I think, be irrevocable and catastrophic to our economy and to all of the variances that make the UK exciting, accessible and interesting.  And I don’t think any lay voter (including myself) can possibly understand the extent of the impact that leaving the EU would have.  Sometimes, we have to trust the people at the top.  Luckily, I don’t actually think that there will be a referendum  – don’t you think this was just put in to appease the far-right voters? Yeah, me too.

These Conservative endeavours will make money, but it will be at the expense of social progression, consumer choice and the common good.  Those are just five that I picked out but if you want a few more:

6.  “There are over 250 new free schools – set up and run by local people – delivering better education for the children who need it most.” pg.33.

Schools run and funded, essentially, by P.T.A.’s – can you imagine?  No, well here are some more wise words from Michael Gove about how unimportant it is that buildings for learning need to be anything more than functional. About which he also said “We won’t be getting Richard Rogers to design your school, we won’t be getting any award-winning architects to design it, because no one in this room is here to make architects richer.”  Clearly the only architects he knows are those manhattan loft-owning, moustache growing, Saab driving architects in the movies.

7.  “A free media is the bedrock of an open society. We will deliver a comprehensive review of the BBC Royal Charter, ensuring it delivers value for money for the licence fee payer, while maintaining a world class service and supporting our creative industries. That is why we froze the BBC licence fee and will keep it frozen, pending Charter renewal.” – pg.42

Ugh, I find this one too depressing to talk about.  But I suppose some people don’t watch or listen to the BBC, or attend any events hosted or funded by the BBC, or listen / watch to BBC news, or let their kids watch cbeebies. Hold on, who are these people? And where exactly can they get a better return on £150/year?

8.  “The creative industries have become our fastest-growing economic sector, contributing nearly £77 billion to the UK economy…” – pg.42

But we don’t want good architects to design our schools.

9.  “We have abolished or merged over 300 quangos.” – pg.47

What the hell is a quango?

10.  “As hosts of the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, we helped secure the adoption of the London Declaration on Illegal Wildlife Trade and will continue to lead the world in stopping the poaching that kills thousands of rhinos, elephants and tigers each year.” – pg.55

But we don’t give a fuck about the foxes.

11.  “The next Conservative Government will scrap the Human Rights Act, and introduce a British Bill of Rights.  This will break the formal link between British courts and the European Court of Human Rights, and make our own Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter of human rights matters in the UK.” – pg.60

Presumably to stop the world suing us for discriminating against the disabled.

END. (of the world).

Is it right to buy?

On 14th April 2015 the Conservative Party announced, as part of their Manifesto, that they would extend their ‘Right to Buy’ scheme for tenants of Local Authority properties and further introduce the scheme for tenants of Housing Associations, stating that “It is unfair that they should miss out on a right enjoyed by tenants in local authority homes…” – The Conservative Party Manifesto 2015, pg.52

I don’t disagree with the general principle that people should be able to get on to the property ladder.  In the UK, unlike much of Europe, we have an obsession with home ownership.  This obsession is partly due to a favourable equity return that is almost a guarantee as home owners move up the ladder, and, in part, it is due to the diabolical control and policing of the private rental market that ‘hard-working’ renters want to get out of.

It is also true that when people own their own homes they take more pride by investing in it, which benefits their health and wellbeing as much as it does their local community – that’s not rocket science, it’s just a consequence of basic human behaviour.

On the assumption that the private rental market will be controlled in pretty much the same way as it currently is, we must turn our eye to the question of home ownership.

In pretty much all trading markets, supply and demand controls the sale value of products. For example, there are cuts of meat that go in and out of fashion.  At the moment, very few people enjoy what I think happens to a be a delicious cut, and that is Osso Bucco – so the sale price is low.  But a lot of people seem to be really in to Lamb Shank at the moment and so the sale price is high.  In time, these cuts will go in and out of fashion and, as they do, their sale prices will rise and fall to reflect demand.

Fundamentally, the housing market is the same.  As house demand goes up, so does the value.

Except that isn’t how it works any more.  It’s being manipulated.

Over the years, Governments have introduced so many schemes under the guise of ‘getting people on to the ladder’, but actually, all these guises are just a way of keeping house prices high – ensuring that people’s money makes a decent return and that the associated taxes and revenues can be generated.  If these schemes didn’t exist then either house prices would have to fall – because buyers wouldn’t be able to raise the mortgages to afford them – or salaries would have to increase – for buyers to afford the mortgages.  The Government, any Government, doesn’t want the first of those options because it would be absolutely catastrophic for investors, and no Government can realistically enforce the second option to the level that would be required, particularly in the South East.  And so Governments have to look at other options to keep house prices on the rise, based on current and realistic predictions of salary levels.

Shared Ownership, Help to Buy and Pocket Living are just three such examples of these government backed schemes.

But what if I don’t want to share the ownership of my flat?  What if I don’t want help to purchase my house?  and what if I don’t want to live in a fucking pocket!? Somebody else’s pocket.

Ok, Ok, this is developing in to a somewhat personal blog post so let me get back to the point.

Right to Buy.  That is my gripe, and here’s why:

“We will fund the replacement of properties sold under the extended Right to Buy by requiring local authorities to manage their housing assets more efficiently, with the most expensive properties sold off and replaced as they fall vacant.” – The Conservative Party Manifesto 2015, pg.52

I am deeply concerned with the idea of selling off the most expensive Local Authority properties.  It is correct that some Local Authority housing is incredibly valuable and, on the open market, would generate a filthy amount of money.  But it is not right that these properties should be sold on the open market.  To do so will create enormous pockets of great wealth because these high-value Local Authority properties are already in higher than average areas of affluency.  They are in the nicest areas, closest to public transport, near the ‘good’ schools, with off street parking, on well maintained streets, near the nice parks, and the river, and have south facing gardens, etc.  And what does selling them mean for the people that vacant them?  Are they forced in to areas where less, or possibly none, of those ‘niceties’ exist?

I don’t believe that any Local Authority or Housing Association should be forced to sell their housing stock on the open market (and only to tenants if they really are going to build 1 for 1).  However, if they are, I wonder if The Conservatives ever thought about selling the least expensive properties?  What would that do to those communities? Well, I think it would encourage first time buyers in to areas where they can afford to own a home with less, or possibly no help. And, overtime, instead of letting the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ neighbourhoods drift even further apart, it could produce a steady balance.  What do you think?  Am I being naive to think that increasing genuinely affordable home ownership within communities of predominantly Local Authority housing, might be an alternative?  And vice versa? Don’t we all want to live in communities that benefit from home-ownership? Even if we ourselves need the support of a Local Authority of a Housing Association to do so? Isn’t that fair?

But what part does fair play when there is plenty of filthy money to be made.

How was it for you?

Whether you are now a journalist, a dog walker, a professional javelin thrower, an architect or still a student – whatever you are up to – if you are studying or have studied architecture at any time in the UK then I would like to hear from you!

HWIFU

I am undertaking a piece of academic research about the Studio Culture in schools of architecture in the UK and It would be amazing if you could take 10 minutes out of your day to answer a few questions.  The survey is anonymous, confidential and for academic research purposes only.

link to survey >

For more information about the nature of this research, please see previous post, Culture Club.

CULTURE CLUB : Educating a Society for Architects

RM2014

– Robert Mull (Dean and Director of Architecture at the CASS, London Metropolitan University) speaking at the Architecture Foundation (2014). ‘Futures in the Making: A Panel Discussion Exploring the Future of Architectural Education’ – to view the recorded event, click here >

 

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RESEARCH QUESTION

How might changes to the studio culture, in architectural education, positively impact on the culture of architectural practice?

 

OBJECTIVES

Create a set of informed hypotheses about how changes to the studio culture for students of architecture might positively impact on the practice of architecture, based on:

  • Identifying past and present student learning experiences within the studio
  • Understanding the history of architectural education
  • Exploring the proposed RIBA reforms to architectural education
  • Identifying patterns and links between the culture of student learning and the culture of professional practice

 

FIELD OF STUDY / CONTEXT

In the UK, Architects must be registered on the Architects Registration Board (ARB) in order to practice using the title ‘Architect’.  They must have passed examinations at three levels: Part 1 (undergraduate degree), Part 2 (Postgraduate Diploma or Masters) and 3 (Professional Qualification), and on courses that have been validated by the ARB.  In the UK, the majority of these courses are operated by higher education institutes (RIBA, 2013).

The ARB was established as a result of the Architects Act (1997).  Before then, validation of UK architecture courses was only undertaken by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).  The RIBA is a membership organisation and so, unlike the ARB, it is not directly governed by external policy.  As a result of the Architects Act, the RIBA and the ARB collaborate on many areas relating to education including course criteria and validation procedures, in an effort to avoid discrepancies and confusion for higher education institutes and their students.

The current system of architectural education is based on the 1924 Congress on Architectural Education’s recognition that Schools of Architecture could delivery the requirements set out in the 1863 RIBA examinations, within a system of full-time education.

The current system of architectural education has not changed for 90 years.

Since 1924, a number of external factors, largely political, have impacted on the profession.  Table 1 identifies some of these key factors, which have contributed to many changes including; a shift in the role of the architect, and a split or ‘divide’ in how they are employed (Hopkirk, 2013).

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In the UK, the percentage of students who enter a Part 1 course and who go on to become Registered Architects is around 30% (RIBA, 2007-2013).  Drop-off of students in higher education is not uncommon, but why do 70% of architecture students not go on to fully qualify?  Is it the length of time it takes to qualify?  Is it the associated expense? Is it the expected salary?

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In autumn 2013 the RIBA launched a review in to architectural education, which is focused around addressing 5 key ‘parameters’ (RIBA, 2013):

  • The (current) gated role to qualification / registration
  • Value: Tuition Fees, Debt; Course Duration
  • Inclusivity: Access to architectural education
  • Eliminating the culture of separation
  • Enhancing synergies with practice

On what information is the review group basing these parameters? What is the context of the review? And what will the outcomes be?

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In November 2014, the Architecture Foundation (AF) organised a panel discussion under the title ‘Futures in the Making: A Panel Discussion Exploring the Future of Architectural Education’.  In his introduction, Chair, Robert Mull, spoke under three headings; Structure, Habits and Ethics.  He posed questions about the professional ‘structures’ that are in place; the ARB / RIBA. He questioned the ‘habits’ of architectural education; the 24-hour studio, the crit, the unit system of teaching, and the oddity of the widely adopted term ‘school’ of architecture, and he philosophised about the implications that these educational habits have on the profession.  He presented a short argument for the further teaching of ethics, under the widely used term ‘citizenship’.

What is the connection between the studio and practice? And how can it change?

 

SUMMARY

The link between studio culture and the practice of architecture is, I suspect, undeniable; the ‘habits’ that are established in the studio must evolve in practice.  If there is recognition that these ‘habits’ are detrimental to the profession, and that education is the vehicle for change, then we need to understand the past and present situations.

At the heart of this understanding, for me, is an interrogation of the studio culture and the student experience.  Only once that is understood, are we informed enough to change things; To change this Culture Club.

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This research is being undertaken as part of an MA Design with Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA), Kingston University, London.

7th annual International Student Poster Competition : Skopje

Entry to the 7th annual International Student Poster Competition, Skopje

Before I embarked on research for this poster competition, and probably even before I read the brief, my understanding and interpretation of the word ‘Peace’ was naive and uninformed.  I had a view that peace was unachievable – that human greed will always exist and, therefore, so will disagreement, violence and polarised societies.

And even if a peaceful existence could be achieved, I thought that it would be a distilled and homogeneous shade of beige – a place where variety and personal opinion were of little consequence because there would be no opposites.

But that is no longer my opinion.  Peace is about embracing, celebrating and accepting our differences for a free and peaceful society.

 

Wilmot_ManifestoForPeace

and now, for a book(s) review

If, like me, you don’t read books until after they are in at least their third edition, then this is a book review that you can get on board with; If you want to know what books you should have read four years ago then we’re probably on the same page, of The Da Vinci Code; If the first books that you recommend for other people to read are either ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ or Michael J. Fox’s autobiography, ‘Lucky Man’, then, seriously, get in touch. It’s too much of a coincidence to be nothing more than a coincidence.

I don’t usually pass up any comments on literature as previous experiences have taught me that they are of little value to anyone (see above). This time is no exception as the most recent of the books that I want to rant about was first published in 2011. This is simply a record of how I am now feeling after recently finishing three books by three hilarious women; Nora Ephron, Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling.

fey ephron kaling

Ephron writes like the mother of Fey and the Great Aunt of Kaling. And, also, she is totally bonkers. Not bonkers like clinical, or sleeps around, or listens to Beyonce albums on loop crazy, but ‘once-contemplated-paying-$10,000-a-month-to-rent-a-flat-in-the-1990’s’ kind of crazy. Clearly, she is not of this planet, but once you get over the fact that she’s blindingly loaded, you can see how wonderfully enchanting a woman she must have been. I’m sad she was not my third granny.

If you’re racking your brains to try and recall who Nora Ephorn Is, and I don’t blame you because on this side of the pond her face eludes most of us, then all you really need to know is that she was the creator of ‘When Harry met Sally’ and the writer of that scene.  You know, THAT scene.

In this book she fills us in on her daily routine, how she takes care of herself, and she gives her views on raising children.  The chapter ‘parenting in three stages’ – the third of which, ‘The Child Is Gone’, ends with some great advice;

‘Meanwhile, you have an extra room.  Your child’s room.  Do not under any circumstance leave your child’s room as is.  Your child’s room is not a shrine.  It’s not going to the Smithsonian.  Turn it into a den, a gym, a guest room, or (if you already have all three) a room for wrapping Christmas presents.  Do this as soon as possible.  Leaving your child’s room as is may encourage your child to return. You do no want this.’

Ephron delivers witty, timeless commentary on the every day things that bother every single one of us – parts of the body that surgery has not yet been developed to tackle, the first divorce, the second divorce, food – my goodness, she LOVES food and kids, all whilst filling us in on the context that made her life possible.

Mindy makes reference to Ephron at one stage, and THAT scene (really – do we need to talk about it? I’m British after all) and, I mean, she writes in the way that I imagine her brain to work – but I no longer need to imagine, it is there in black and white.  Mindy likes to make lists.  Lists for everything.  In actual fact this book is just one big list, and it is one of the best lists  that I have ever read.  I can’t really distill it down to anything less – it’s a book about this polite, ambitious and delightfully hilarious woman. She talks about her family, her relentless desire to simply ‘be famous’ and praises the people who showed her how she could be.

I first encountered Mindy whilst watching The Office, the American sibling of the Gervais / Merchant originally British sitcom.  My god, she has some great lines in that show but, as she points out, as she was also one of the writers and producers, she couldn’t be a central character. And thats ok two-fold, firstly because Kelly Kapoor is like paracetamol; Little and only when it is really needed, and, secondly, we now have something amazing where she is slap bang in the middle; The Mindy Project.

At the start of the book, Mindy makes a point of reminding the reader that she is not Tina Fey and that, I’m afraid to say, is for one simply reason – because she is not Tina Fey.  Nobody else could be Tina Fey because Tina Fey is, well, Tina Fey. And she’s awesome at it.  As much as I want Nora to be my third granny and to hang out with Mindy at the Cheesecake Factory in 1996, there is something I want more.  I want to BE Tina Fey.  But I suppose I shall just have to settle for ‘knowing Tina Fey’.  Except I don’t know her, she’s not even a friend of a friend.  In another lifetime perhaps we might have met once a week for a coffee and to talk about crotch biscuits and the effects of Alec Baldwin’s voice on the average woman.

“Welcome Friend,

Congratulations on your purchase of this American-made genuine book.  Each component of this book was selected to provide you with maximum book performance, whatever your reading needs may be. 

If you are a woman and you bought this book for practical tips on how to make it in a male-dominated workplace, here they are.  No pigtails, no tube tops.  Cry Sparingly. (Some people say “Never let them see you cry.  It terrifies everyone.) When choosing sexual partners, remember: Talent is not sexually transmittable.  Also, don’t eat diet foods in meetings.

Perhaps you’re a parent and you bought this book to learn how to raise an achievement-orientated, drug-free, adult virgin.  You’ll find that, too.  The essential ingredients, I can tell you up front, are a a strong father figure, bad skin, and a child-sized colonial-lady outfit.

Maybe you bought this book because you love Sarah Palin and you want to find reasons to hate me.  We’ve got that!  I use all kinds of elitist words like “impervious” and “torpor”, and I think gay people are just as good at watching their kids play hockey as straight people.”

That. Is. Fey.

The thing is that i am reading these books now, in 2014. Had I have read Mindy’s book when it was first published, I might have saved myself three years of being dicked about by a whole host of people.  And if I had read Bossypants back in 2011 then I would have perhaps found more productive and successful ways to write great comedy sketches with my friends. If I had read Nora’s book many moons ago then I would have a better understanding of why my nan / mum behave the way they do and also a better knowledge of just how rich people were twenty years ago, in New York, before liberalism really took off.

What’s next on the reading list? Well on the recommendation of both Tina and Mindy, why, Amy Poehler of course – Yes please!

– – – – – – – – – – –

Ephron, N. (2006). I feel bad about my neck. Black Swan.

Fey, T. (2013). Bossypants. Little Brown.

Kaling, M. (2011). Is everyone hanging out with me? And other concerns.  Ebury Press.

Poehler, A. (2014 – exp.) Yes Please. Picador

a mac shaped hole in my heart

Today something tragic happened.

A fire swept through the Mackintosh building at the Glasgow School of Art. It took with it the artwork and hearts of students, staff and visitors; past and present.  If you were to pick one building to define Glasgow, community, art school, innovation and creativity, it would be this building.  Thankfully, nobody appears to have been hurt or injured.

I’m sure I’m not the first and I almost certainly won’t be the last person who felt a sudden need to record their feelings for this extraordinary building.  I studied at the Mackintosh school of architecture between 2002 and 2008 and although my studios were never in the Mackintosh building, the opportunity to gaze across at an architectural masterpiece presented itself every day.  And I relished it.  I used to regularly go and sit on the top floor ‘hen run’ to escape the tangible stress levels of the architecture school – and without exception I would be stunned by the views across the south of Glasgow – always reliable yet constantly changing.

Whenever you needed a different space to work in; brighter, darker, more intimate, louder, quieter or completely silent, the Mac building would always offer it up to you.  It was like the room of requirement – no way of working in a space seemed beyond your reach, you just needed to know where to discover it.  I remember finding little places to sit with my thoughts, even right up until my final year, six years after embarking on the start of an unquestionably serious relationship with this phenomenal building.

Every year, for the June Degree show, the building made a stealth like transformation from centre stage to back drop, for the work of the students.  The flexible yet controlled spaces were dynamically altered to provide for the needs of the artists; within double height studio spaces, mezzanines and dark rooms.  Students were humbled by the building, treating it like any other art school but with a palpable sense of what was for messing with, and what wasn’t – where vandalism was in the eye of the beholder and therein lay a kind of beauty in their judgement.

I tolerated the unforgiving timber pews of the Mackintosh lecture theatre to be in the presence of some inspiring speakers; Izi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan, Gareth Hoskins, Piers Gough, George Ferguson, Gavin Stamp and Richard Rogers to name but a few.  My god, if those walls could talk they would reveal an infinite number of master craftsmanship secrets.

I didn’t use the library as much as I now wish I had.

In spite of all this nostalgia, the Mac building is a working building, a working art school, and I truly hope that it will continue to be.  It is not just a piece of Scottish and architectural history, it’s significance spreads far beyond – I have yet to meet a student or member of staff, past or present, who doesn’t have a deep emotional bond with the Mackintosh building, the life-blood of the Glasgow School of Art.

Here are some of my own photographs taken during my time as a student.

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independent independence

Recently, the Sunday Times reported that the Scottish Independence voting polls are pretty much neck and neck.  My heart sank, my mouth went dry and I could feel myself welling up.  Shit. This might actually happen.

And then I found myself asking one simple question.  Why don’t I get to vote on this?

Oh, right, because I’m not Scottish – ha! ‘Wilmot, you idiot!  Don’t be foolish.”

Except I’m not.  I’m asking this because I don’t understand why the rest of Great Britain don’t get to vote on Scottish Independence? At the moment we are one country, or union, or whatever the correct term for it is.  It is not ‘us and them’ at the moment so why is the voting divided?  Am I being thick? (rhetorical).  And don’t just repeat the ‘not Scottish’ thing again, because it’s a bullshit excuse, and it’s not thought through.

If the voting goes ‘yes’ then it is going to be like losing a limb.  A really significant limb, not like a little finger or a big toe, but an actual whole limb.  If my left leg made a self-imposed decision to optionally remove itself from the rest of my body then I’d like to think that it would give the rest of my body a say in the matter, and that it wouldn’t just wander off one day.  I’d expect a second opinion at least.

And my giddy-aunt, the thought of living in the consequences; a conservative stronghold for wales and England – it makes my skin crawl and my stomach hit the ceiling. It might push house prices up in Scotland, mind, as demand from southern liberals reaches it’s peak in a couple of years time – ‘Get your deposits sorted, guys; I’ll match your 5% and we can set up a commune in the fife countryside!’

Actually, I think it’s going to be more like losing an organ and, for me, it’s the heart.  Damn, what a hopeless romantic I am.  This metaphor is quickly getting out of control.  Stop me before I suggest that the M6, M74 and M8 are the aorta of the country.  Too late.

I’ve now lived as much of my adult life in London as I did in Glasgow and there is huge disconnection.  The boundaries of Greater London provide a bubble of something which contains just an ‘essence of Britishness’.  So diluted by the diversity of the city that really it portrays Britain as more ‘European’ than British, to anyone visiting.  This diversity is what makes London such a great place to live, and I don’t blame the 10 million of us here for wanting to be here.  But it is also the source of the disconnection with not just Scotland, but most of the rest of England and Wales too.

Like 33 cities sewn together by a phenomenally efficient transport network, glorious River and great variety in housing typologies (all be them unaffordable), London has pretty much something for everyone.  And if you don’t believe me, just fill out one of those Buzzfeed quizzes that are always popping up on Facebook.

That doesn’t mean that London is like some kind of democratic safe haven, or that life here is plain sailing, because it isn’t.  The top 10 Local Authorities in the UK where households are most at risk of experiencing child poverty are ALL London Boroughs.  So are 9 of the top 10 areas most at risk of long-term unemployment*.  On top of that, actual Londoners can not afford to buy homes in London. In 2013, it was widely reported that 85% of Central London properties on the market were sold to oversees buyers.  So things are not all gravy if you’re a Londoner.

Much like the rest of the British, the Scots are everywhere, including London;  All over the place, and what’s going to happen to them? Will they have to apply for a working visa?  Or prove their ‘English & Welsh’ citizenship?

I think the main issue I have is what, at a grass roots level, is actually going to be different.  Here are some of my questions:

Will we still be able to pass across the border without being strip searched?

What happens to the Scots who live outside of Scotland at the moment?

Will Sainsbury’s still stock Tunnocks Teacakes?

and, most importantly,  Will the Scots be ok?  Of course they bloody well will, how patronising Wilmot.

So, before I take actual umbridge with my left leg, I’d like you all to consider this;  Which limb would you voluntarily like to lose?

Yeah, thought as much.

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* Experian LA Rankings , 2012

Ballet à Paris

Pour mon anniversaire, ma mère m’a emmené à Paris!  De documenter notre temps j’ai décidé de prendre des photos d’elle en dehors des bâtiments que nous avons visités.  Elle a été formée comme une danseuse de ballet et parce que la France est la patrie du ballet…

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Gare du Nord

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Sacré-Cœur

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La maison d’Erik Satie

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Tour Eiffel

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Cathédrale Notre-Dame

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Panthéon

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Le Centre Pompidou

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Musée du Louvre

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Opéra