Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Blogging Against Disablism Day 2016

Blogging Against Disablism Day 2016 (#BADD2016) is this coming Sunday, on 1st May. I shall be hosting a gallery of artworks, "And now: the Gallery", which I hope may speak to folk with disabilities &/or chronic illnesses as well as a blog-post on "Art for All".

This year Blogging Against Disablism Day has taken the exciting step of branching out on to Tumblr at .

The event can also be found as usual on Facebook at

And of course the event will be as ever live-tweeted on Twitter at .

The main archive will be hosted by Goldfish on Diary of a Goldfish. There you can also search through the archives for previous years, where there are lots of stimulating, interesting and still relevent blog-posts.

I hope you'll join in on Sunday, either as a contributer or as a reader or maybe both.


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Crippled, Queer, Anglo-European Ranter's Fourth Birthday

Last year I was too exhausted to celebrate my blog's third birthday. So I am writing this ahead of the date this year to ensure I remember to mark its fourth birthday!

[Image description: cakes! %P]

I can scarcely believe that there have been nearly 412,000 viewings. My greatest success numerically (with 145,468) by far is my blog-post from June 2012 Alan Turing: a Queer Hero, which I suspect was boosted by the release in 2015 of a biopic on the said computer scientist & mathematician.

The second most viewed item is the same as two years ago, from October 2013, Bloom Brasserie @ Bloom Live, which has reached nearly 83,084 hits. A shame that the venue closed some "two months later - hopefully not due to my review!" 

And still in third place is my second report on my favourite male musician, from June 2013, Matt Alber in Birmingham (not Alabama!), which has been visited on some 74,708 occasions.

Whilst large numbers do not read all my postings, I am just as happy when handfuls of folk read my poems. Especially pleasurable is when some reader picks one from early on in the blog's history, as this says to me that the person has actually looked out the poem for some reason.

[Image description: map of top-ten countries; list of top-ten countries with number of page views.
The screen-shot was taken on 24th April, two days prior to the fourth anniversary]

Two years ago my blog was mainly visited by UK and US readers, then France, Germany and Sweden. At that time these five countries constituted two-thirds of my readership. Now the US represents more than half of all my viewings. Then the UK followed very closely by France. Germany is still in fourth position. But Russia has leapt up the chart to fifth position, with Sweden still making the top-ten at number nine. 

The index of terms that appears at the bottom of every blog-page has increased to 189 words that appear four or more times.

The top-fifteen terms are listed in the chart above.
#1     disabled with 67 references
#2     review with 41
#3     disability with 35
#4     blog with 30
#5     Manchester & poetry each with 27
#7     wheelchair with 25
#8     DWP with 24
#9     WoWPetition with 23
#10   Facebook, service & Spain each with 22
#13   Benalmádena, queer & UK each with 20

The above chart lists the rest of the double-digit entries, a further twenty terms. There are now a total of thirty-five terms with ten or more references, as opposed to seventeen back in 2014. All the words listed in 2014 are still contained in the two charts above. Thus, my prediction back then, that the same issues would continue to be of interest to me, was pretty much spot-on.

Dozens of new terms have been added to the four-plus club. The most notable (with five or more) are listed in the above chart. The new entry with the highest references is Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I took a holiday there, so had lots to relate. Other than that the terms cover travel, health, food, politics and disability issues. I suppose that fairly sums up my life!

Blogging Against Disablism Day 2016 (#BADD2016) is on 1st May. I am hoping to host a gallery of artworks that may speak to folk with disabilities as well as a blog-post on "Art for All". Additionally May is International M.E. Awareness month, so I am hoping I shall be well enough to add something to that. Additionally, I have my fingers crossed that I can write up about more of the things I did on my recent trip to Berlin, supported and cared for by two wonderful assistants (thank you both). Perhaps the reader might be enticed to return for one of more of these.

As ever: many thanks to my seven stalwart followers (feel free to join them if you care to do so) and of course the many, many readers across the globe (except Antarctica - still!). xxx

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Mädchenitaliener: a Review

[Image description: interior shots of the front dining area]

We arrived for lunch at a quarter past midday after a recommendation from the proprietor at Stetson on Münzstraße, Berlin (one of the main shopping zones in the city) to try out Mädchenitaliener on Alte Schönhauser Straße 12. The place was empty other than a very obviously in-love couple. We enquired of our affable server whether we were early for German luncheon. She advised that we were not. We ordered the apéritif from the specials' board, a cocktail of Prosecco, raspberry purée and fresh mint - tasty and refreshing with a wonderful, fruity aroma.

As a starter, Vorspeise, we ordered a sharing-platter for two. From the photographs below one can observe just how colourful and healthy it was. Nought remained once we had devoured every last morsel.

[Image description: sharing-platter & cocktails]

We ordered a dry, white wine to accompany our mains & desserts. My companion opted for fresh, spelt spaghetti & pesto rosso with fresh mint and Parmesan. I ordered the gnocchi. For the first time in my life I experienced gnocchi that had been sautéed after being cooked to give a satisfyingly crunchy outer texture before reaching the soft centres. Fresh mint had been added which had the texture of Chinese seaweed. Nothing went back to the kitchen. My only criticism was that the portion of gnocchi was too large and slightly over salted.

[Image description: spaghetti & pesto rosso and sautéed gnocchi]

I ordered a panna cotta for dessert, Nachspeise, with was decorated with poppy seeds, freshly grated chocolate, raspberry coulis and topped with a physalis. My chum ordered honeycomb & honey with whipped cream and sourdough. Again nothing remained on our platters other than tell-tale smears of deliciousness!

[Image description: panna cotta and honey, cream & sourdough]

Mädchenitaliener was incredibly relaxed and friendly: so much so, that we ended up conversing with the folk on the next table. Richard and I were there for the longest duration. Most other diners seemed only to want a quick one- or two-course meal. As we left there was still nary an empty seat - surely a good sign.

[Image description: diners eating]

We had a friend coming to meet up with us in Berlin, so we attempted to take her for dinner. Alas, the place was so popular we could not get a seat without waiting at least an hour. Instead we booked for the following night: even then we were the last space available!

The evening's service was not at all comparable with that of lunchtime. We waited in a line streaming through the restaurant, completely ignored by staff. An acknowledgement, even a quick explanation to us all would have been the courteous step to take.

We were not led to table and had menus thrust into my hands. It took thirty-six minutes from reaching our table before we even received our first drinks. Our starters took fifty-five minutes to arrive. Given we were booked in for nine pm we were famished by the time the food arrived. There are no images because we were so hungry we all three just tucked in.

The food was delicious. The mains - tagliatelle with fig (mine), gnocchi (2nd friend) and tagliatelle Lorenzo (1st friend) - were completely consumed. So stuffed, none of us could continue on to dessert.


[Image description: tagliatelle with fig, top; gnocchi, middle; tagliatelle Lorenzo, bottom]
We did give a 5% tip, but explained to our waitress that had there not been such long delays we would have given a 10% gratuity.

The food is well worth visiting this restaurant. If in any kind of hurry however, turn up for lunch NOT dinner.


Y: the last man / Y: el último hombre : a review

During my annual residence in Spain last year, I purchased from En Portada Comics the ten graphic novels in Spanish (image above) that comprise the complete set of Y: the last man / Y: el último hombre. Most I read during my quotidian visits to Maracas Beach Bar in Benalmádena Costa. However, the last I had to wait to read, as I again lost my ability to read for enjoyment. Due to a bout of insomnia I completed my reading of the series.

Several years ago, I came across volume one in English (image above) in the appropriate section of Manchester's branch of Waterstone's. At the time I loved the idea of a world without men, in which the last man alive tries to stay alive and battle his way across the planet to find his betrothed. Just a good job that he turns out to be heterosexual, otherwise it might have proved a disaster for humankind!

I do not wish to reveal any more of the plot: however, for those who do not find synopses detract from their enjoyment of books, a brief overview can be found in this Wikipedia article.

The only pointer I should make is the reason for the disappearance of all male creatures from Earth is never overtly stated, but several theories and explanations are offered throughout the series. The reason I am apprising the reader is so that they can look for clues if they so wish.

Out of the ten books, only one slightly disappointed from a narrative perspective (not the last); however, I enjoyed the artworks and the characters throughout. Additionally, as the novel was originally published in comic-book format, the extra covers are included for good measure at the rear of each relevant tome; so no-one will miss out on the superb cover-art.

I believe there is a de-luxe version of the series in English, which I might consider placing on my wish-list.

Totally recommend! %D


My long-lost ability to read…

At the beginning of April I reported a bout of insomnia on my facebook feed. However, despite the lack of sleep, I was extremely happy to relate that over a period of four hours, I read in Spanish volumes 9 and 10 of Y: the last man / Y: el último hombre (images below). The none-native-tongue is not what is so remarkable; the fact I read for an extended period is. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis can severely effect the cognitive abilities of sufferers. In my case I periodically lose the ability to read anything other than short passages of text. Some days any kind of reading is beyond me. Added to this is intermittent dyslexia. However, I may be slowly regaining my ability to read.

This past weekend over a two-day period I read Three Men in the Snow / Drei Männer im Schnee (images below) by Erich Kästner. Admittedly I am familiar with this work. Nonetheless I had not read it in well over a decade. To boot I read it in the original German.

Well, here's hoping my ability to read has returned. I may even be able to rejoin my book-club!


Tynemouth Market - Treasure for All

I thought when going to Tynemouth Market that I was off to an arts & crafts market. That is the Sunday version. Turning up on a Saturday one encounters the flea-market format.

There were wonderful aromas from food stalls. The Caribbean one with its beaming hostess was oh so inviting. Other highlights for me included an organic bakery stall, where I was impressed to meet a loaf of beetroot bread, a lush pink sourdough, for the first time in my life.

For the long-standing collection of my 'mater-in-law' (my ex' Mater), I sourced a couple of pieces of the long defunct green Jasperware by Wedgwood from a ceramic stall by the café. So I was a happy chap.

[Image description: wooden cherry bowl on cherry flooring]

From a crafty craft stall by the restaurant my friend bought for and gifted to me an artisan turned cherrywood bowl, from a tree that lived and perished in Tynemouth itself, even coming with a label recounting its provenance.

My chum's little lad found some second-hand Lego - so he was happy too.

Only Mum came away with nothing but memories.

Next time I am up in the North-East, I shall look forward to the Sabbath event and purchasing something for my walls at home.

Access Issues

You need to arrive early to park close by - there is no designated disabled parking that we could see. Wheelchairs would be diffiult to manœuvre through some of the stalls. The mobility-impaired cannot cross the train-lines to the other side. There is no seating for resting, other than some of the eateries.

[Image description: wooden cherry bowl on cherry flooring, birds'-eye view]