Duck. Duck now.

(Brief interlude.)

With all the Sarah Palin comments going around at the moment, am I the only one worried that Doctor Who is terrifyingly coming to life?


Petition climate change talks in Bali

Please sign the emergency petition to try to  save the crucial climate change talks in Bali right now by telling the US, Canada and Japan to stop blocking an agreement. You can sign it here:

Talks are deadlocked, and running into the weekend. Almost all countries have agreed to cut rich country carbon emissions by 2020–which scientists say is crucial to stop catastrophic global warming, and will also help bring China and the developing world onboard. But with just 24 hours left, the US and its close allies Canada and Japan have rejected any mention of such cuts.

We can’t let three governments hold the world hostage and block agreement on this desperate issue.

There’s still 24 hours left to turn this around –  click below to sign the petition – it will be delivered direct to summit delegates, through stunts and in media advertisements, so our voices will actually be heard. But we need a lot of us, fast, to join in if we’re going to make a difference. Just click on the link to add your name:


the short review

The Short Review is, according to themselves, where short story collections step into the spotlight. Set up by writer Tania Hershman, the site aims to publish “original reviews of new, not-quite-so-new and classic collections, written by reviewers who are also short story writers themselves and who love short fiction”. (One of those reviewers happens to be my girl.) It’s just launched, so give it a click.

Free legal advice for the creative industries

What with all the recent IMSLP brouhaha, it’s worth recalling that copyright is becoming an increasingly important issue for anyone working in the creative industries. I’m frequently baffled (and increasingly concerned) that so many of the writers, performers and composers that I come across don’t have even the most rudimentary understanding of how intellectual property works, and how it is crucial to their professional lives. Not brushing up even a little leaves you at risk like a shopkeeper who doesn’t know how to add up till receipts. (For professional journalists not to know even the most fundamental difference between a copyright and a registered trademark is particularly embarrassing.)

So, it’s particularly timely for the Legal Advice Centre of the Queen Mary, University of London School of Law to expand its free pro bono advice to the creative industries, starting from 7th November. Here’s a press release:

The Legal Advice Centre at Queen Mary, University of London launches new ‘Law for the Arts’ service

A new service at Queen Mary’s Legal Advice Centre (LAC) will provide free legal advice to people working in the creative industries on issues such as copyright and trademarks. From writers to musicians, and sculptors to performers, the LAC is launching a dedicated night which focuses on ‘Law for the Arts’ on the first Wednesday of every month.

The LAC, London’s first-ever undergraduate legal advice centre, was officially opened by the then Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, in November 2006. Since its launch, the Centre has advised over 150 clients on issues as diverse as landlord and tenant disputes, personal injury and tax, and VAT. However, despite the Centre’s success, Julie Pinborough, LAC Manager, noticed a void in the provision of legal advice for those in the creative industries.

Julie explains: “Over the course of the year, there were several clients who came to the Legal Advice Centre with legal issues surrounding their creative work. They had all previously found it difficult to ascertain free legal advice in these areas and we therefore recognised that the creative industries needed more legal support.

“The Department of Law at Queen Mary has an outstanding reputation in this field and we felt that with many of our students studying the areas of law that the creative industries would need to draw on, along with the unquestionable support and experience of the two law firms we partner with, we would be able to provide a service to this industry that will allow the creative individual to move forward more freely within their profession.”

Well versed in law

The new service could not have come at a better time for two London-based writers, who are about to launch an online poetry business. Katherine Bruce and Sonya Hayden recently set up – a website which generates personalised poetry. Using pioneering VerseAbility(tm) technology, the site allows users to create personalised poetry online in under ten minutes.

Sonya Hayden said: “Setting up the business has been a real learning curve for us. We believe that words are the most powerful and timeless way to express yourself and we wanted to build on our passion for poetry by starting our own company. There are a number of legal issues which are central to our business, such as copyright, trade marking and intellectual property. The Law for the Arts service is exactly what we need to help us prepare for our launch on 30 November.” The two poets will be among the first in London to receive free legal advice on the Centre’s launch night on Wednesday 7 November.

As well as helping members of the public, the Centre also provides a vital stepping-stone for graduates as they enter the legal world, helping them to develop a greater understanding of legal issues. Professor William Wilson, head of Queen Mary’s Department of Law, said: “Legal Education is not simply about teaching students rules and regulations. It is also about developing a student’s understanding of the role played by law in fashioning relationships and protecting individuals against social and economic injustice. I cannot think of a better way for this understanding to come about than by pro bono work. It informs, and inculcates a socially responsible attitude, and it is marvellous experience for those who wish to join the legal profession.”

Note down these details; the way the world’s turning it’s increasingly likely you’ll need them:

Opening Times

The Centre runs an appointment only service with clients being offered appointments on Tuesday and Thursday evenings during term time, from 18.00 to 20.30. (Please note that term time runs from September until the end of May)

Book an appointment

Please contact the Legal Advice Centre Office:
Telephone: 020 7882 3931 (updated, Jan 2016)
Fax: 020 7882 7913

Postal address:
Queen Mary, University of London
Legal Advice Centre
Department of Law
Mile End Road
E1 4NS


So, my friends got married in New Haven, my girl and I went to NYC, then drove in a big square across Pennsylvania, up to Niagara, across to Albany and back down. It was hot, we ate too much, and loveditloveditlovedit. Oh, what the hell, have some notes and a photolog …

Soundtrack: Mikel Rouse, Music for Minorities (£2 from Academy); Corey Dargel, Removable Parts (This is funny stuff, Corey, but it also creeps me the heck out!)

Wordtrack: Sergei Lukyanenko, Nightwatch; Virginia Woolf, The Waves

Nice to meet you: Alex, Molly (congratulations again! Hope the cold got better!)

Nice to see you again: Corey, Yvan

Good drinkin’: Cherry Wheat beer
Good eatin’: Cafe 28 deli

Best view: the restrooms (seriously!) at the Rainbow Rooms, Rockefeller Center.

Of the Dark: New York’s finest, parked in traffic, going nowhere on a pedestrian crossing, just using your siren to intimidate pedestrians trying to cross on a Walk sign. My best London ‘What the f*ck?!’ gestures won a laugh and not a beating. Also: US border guards at Niagara Falls. The most inappropriately incompetent, lazy, smugly authoritarian individuals I’ve had the misfortune to deal with. And I’ve travelled through Heathrow. Oh, and pointing at an elderly Japanese couple who have been waiting patiently for 20 minutes to be allowed back onto their tour bus and drawling “These folks from Chinatownland …” doesn’t exactly meet your advertised pledges of courtesy and respect, pal.

Keeping the scores even for the Light: the lovely officer of New York State Police who let us off with a warning for hitting 85 on the Interstate… thank you, officer.

Best swing from falling-off-stool delight to goggle-eyed incomprehensibility: girl in martini bar in Buffalo – “You’re from London? Oh, I love London! B-but what are you doing here?!”

WTF-check-your-perspective moment: From TV news: “It’s 101 degrees in Texas at the moment, but don’t worry if you’re going to the game – they’re closing the roof and the air conditioning will be on.” While we Brits worry about the carbon differential between organic and non-organic beef, Texans are air conditioning sports stadia…