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WRITELondon Reviewed in The Londonist! September 3, 2008

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Lovely Lindsey Clarke on The Londonist has written a great piece on WRITELondon, my new workshop series. Loads of hits on the WRITELondon blogsite, so am very pleased…

Check out the article here!

A New Era for Jascribble September 3, 2008

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Hey all,

You might have noticed a certain….stagnancy on this site since last year. What happened was, much of life exploded, and little writing was done on this blog, but this means that everything is now a little more under control, with some expansion to report!

 

Jascribble in BigTown will remain as a blog, but specifically explore issues around race, class, gender and politics that come up through events, discussions, news items and contemporary cultural phenomena. Jascribble will also feature pages that work like the bulletins I send out to my mailing list, documenting teaching work, gigs, and other creative projects.

 

There is also now a separate blog for my new workshop range, WRITELondon, at www.writelondon.wordpress.com, feel free to check it out!

 

Stay tuned for a new and improved, sharper Jascribble!

 

Jasmine Ann Cooray

Jascribble’s Cultural Catchup Pt 2 September 11, 2007

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Then there was the Regent Street Amazing India Festival.

I was largely underwhelmed. They basically filled Regent Street, central London with a few stalls selling handicrafts, a few troups of dancers, some rather crude fabric backdrops of the Taj Mahal against which people could take photographs, some shiny overpriced (again) ‘Street Food’ and a main stage with DJs etc etc. An entire street! If I or any of my creative compadres were given a street to ourselves to make the most of, I have no doubt at all that it would be much better than this. I imagine though the festival may have been intended as a cultural celebration of sorts, what transposed was instead the equivalent of a snapshot of someone’s Madventure gap year, laminated for the British public, and tied in all across the street with the shops along the way, discounts coming out of your ears and ‘themed’ windows. Themed windows are a such a fucking useless idea anyway because they are a) limited in their potential, and b) are too close to the viewer to suspend any kind of illusion. When you have real moving Indian dancers shaking past you jangling away, are you really going to be that enamoured with a brown mannequin in a sari-jewel bikini/sarong/matching flip flops/whatever? Ah, the delicious delicious appropriation.

DJ Kayper, on the other hand, was stunning. I caught her on the main stage on the afternoon, after fighting my way through loads of people who seem to have jammed in the middle of the street, like a chunk of dinner swallowed too quickly and stuck in your oesophagus. I looked up, and saw this black curtain of hair rocking over a massive table, laptop mixers and decks all like a mini fort against all these people NOT dancing.  I don’t really get why people weren’t dancing. I reckon it’s because they didn’t really know what they were celebrating, if that makes any sense. I stood and watched her and thought about how long it has been since I saw a female DJ or felt like a 13 year old boy with the urge to go up and say something stupid and ineffectual like ‘er, here’s my myspace, you’re like, wicked innit. yeh’. She was the highlight in a street of too little, and dredged up the designs I have, currently silting at the bottom of my brain, about learning to DJ. After drinking up as much fusion-mix (should be a cocktail, or perhaps baby formula for mixed race children) as I could stomach before my belly rumbled, I ambled off to buy an icecream and chill in the park.

Jascribble’s Cultural Catchup. September 11, 2007

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So I need to catch up on a few things. Having been caught between writing anxiety, isolation and also joy at events and opportunities, it hasn’t exactly been consistant. So I’ll have to break it down:

Film: I for India, the ICA

I never know what to expect from films like this, but conceptually it was great, cinematically unpretentious, and warming. Shot by one of the daughters, it is the story of a families’ migration to England from India, their correspondance with their family back home, re-integration and displacement, I really felt like I had one foot in either place and was slowly being pulled apart like a chicken wishbone. The efforts to stay in contact between Yash and his family come across as remarkable- acknowledging the two dimensionality of letters and scratchy phone conversations and accepting nothing less than better quality voices on a tape, real moving pictures of growing family, changing seasons. Yash buys two sets of filming equipment, one for his family, and one to send home so that every few months, news arrives, buffetted by mail, but still there.

Present day interview footage of England, India, and the family intercut with the crackly tape correspondance, forcing you to remember that the people in the old footage are alive, continuing to exist in their lives. It was slightly bizarre and jolting to watch their journey: itching to leave India, awkward in openly racist England, and then, later, too Anglicised to fit properly in India again, like a shoe worn so long by someone else it doesn’t fit your feet anymore.  Their desire to love India again was difficult- I could see, especially with the daughters, that they connected with their family but had become so accustomed to social British convention that it was difficult to assimilate comfortably beyond curiosity.

The director made some odd decisons in terms of intimacy and her presence in the story, insisting on always being behind the camera even in moments of complete heartwrenching sadness. As one of the sisters, now adult, boards a plane to live in Australia, the family breaks down after a short period of barely- maintained composure. I didn’t want to be there, in that moment, but I think it was important to document it to provide a tangible, present day impression of how hard it can be to leave your family- as the old footage was piecemeal and, having been made for family and not for the public, could not show us that moment. All in all though, in retrospect it was brilliant and refreshing in comparison to the next event………………..

Jascribble and the Jerking Chicken August 25, 2007

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So today, was UK Black Pride, or at least one UK Black Pride event. Apparently the organisers of last years Black Pride (Black as in all encompassing non-white ethnicity, at least ideally, but mostly beautiful afro-caribbean gay men and a sprinkling of gay women) fell out between last year’s event and now, so there were two separate events. This resulted in a half-dancing malais of people fanning themselves in the heat of the dark club (rennaissance rooms, vauxhall) or eating craftily overpriced jerkchicken-an-rice-an-peeeeeeeeeeeas, all the while clocking ex-partners, making connections, or just having a laugh with mates. Myself and Kuch sought solace regularly outside to grab snatches of catch-up and form the beginnings of theories about societal issues and erm, gossip.

 I don’t think any kind of Pride is something to approach on little sleep. What with one thing or another, I haven’t had very much this week so am now ready to drop at any moment, but the enthusiasm and general joyous yawping that is a prerequisite at LGBTQ events just could not be summoned. Otherwise, the event was largely anticlimatic. After last summer’s richly inspiring UK Black Pride and Fire This Time events, this year felt like a nod to the kind of celebration that should have been built on, straightened up and polished til gleaming in the rare August sunshine. The entertainments, while not terrible, came across as very last minute and the crowd was too dispersed among the different rooms to form one mass of cheerers in the centre, rendering the singers, models and poets devoid of any smiling faces to bounce off, feed from, respond to. As pioneers of an anti-nucleic identity that stands up to eurocentrism to be recognised as people, not as novelties, tokens or outsiders, is it not necessary to run these kinds of events with a certain…gusto? The whole point is not necessarily a parading of sexual identity or even the definition of oneself by other-ness but to nurture the development of a community in which people feel they can belong- to promote fluidity of identity and especially that which transgresses between conventions of race, gender and sexuality. I felt especially a rift between the reality and circle of friends that I know who are multicultural and of various sexual orientations and interests and the feel of Black Pride. However- perhaps there was an unspoken agenda that aimed to focus or target in particular, specifically Black British people, and that I am projecting my own desire to appreciate the diversity of people within my life onto the event. Also, it is easy to feel like an outsider if you are one of the few mixed race people in a venue.

However, if you are going to celebrate something, celebrate it properly, not three hours late, with a lack of enthusiasm and bad organisation.There is enough problematic representation of queer people and brown people in society without even our own community seeming not to care. On a more positive note, the fact that the events did happen at all is a thumbs up, and it did happen in London, which is thumbs up even more. The organisers have proved that there is a substantial audience for events such as that in the Renaissance Rooms, but now the challenge will be to expand and make full use of the potential we have in the UK to openly diversify.

New Chapter August 20, 2007

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I am starting this blog to create a window into thoughts, ideas and societal discussion that needs to be here! I am living in London, I’ve just moved back here- and the sheer amount of stuff going on that passes unnoticed, undocumented- unblogges, boggles me. It ranges from the downright scary to fucking hilarious and sometimes both at once, butI love the freeze-frame moments, too- the ones that restore your faith in humanity.

 This blog will be an amalgamation of all these things: links, observations, experiences, and analysis, plus information on my projects and gigs, any interesting pictures that come up, and links to podcasts of interest.

 Happy reading!

 Jasmine

Hello world! August 20, 2007

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