City of Athena: birthplace of democracy

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The first time I visited Athens was in 2004 during the Olympics. I  watched the latter stages of the womens marathon, which covered the route of the original marathon runner Pheidippides, and saw the British mens coxless four win gold, narrowly beating Canada in a thrilling down to the wire finish.

After Initially being thrown out of the Acropolis for climbing over a fence, I eventually got to stand at its summit peering across Athens and feeling a real thrill at being in the birthplace of democracy.

During the latest visit in 2015 I avoided being thrown out of the Acropolis and instead nearly got ejected from the National Archeological Museum by posing for a photo with the Artemesion Bronze, while adopting the menacing pose of the statue. Two of the museum guards shouted at me to stop before the photo could be taken. They explained it was seen as an act of disrespect to adopt the pose of a god while having ones picture taken with said god.

The video contains photos of: The Acropolis, The Acropolis Museum, National Archeological Museum and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Accompanied by the strains of Pink Floyd’s The Great Gig in The Sky and Time. Part 1 of the Greek Odyssey can be seen here.

Manchester Art Gallery

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Visited Manchester Art gallery on Saturday and was rewarded with some excellent exhibits. The Matthew  Darbyshire  exhibition ‘An Exhibition for Modern Living’ finishes today so here is a chance to catch some of his work if you didn’t get a chance to see it.

Also included are some of my favourite pieces from the Modern Japanese Design, House Proud and Fine Art collections.

MatThew  Darbyshire: An Exhibition for Modern Living

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Modern Japanese Design

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House Proud

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Fine Art Collection

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Manchester Art Gallery

Heavenly Hydra

Went over to Hydra early in October, and no I do not mean we joined up with the arch enemy of Nick Fury and SHIELD. The Hydra I mean is a beautiful Mediterranean Island which is a member of the Saronic Islands of Greece. One of the things that drew us to this Island is the fact that motor vehicles are prohibited, and so everything is transported round by donkeys.

I have stayed in Lindos (also no traffic) on Rhodes before, but I have never been to a whole Island without motor vehicles. I love everything about Greece and this latest visit has strengthened that emotion. Hydra is a supremely chilled out destination for a holiday and I highly reccomend it.

Science Slam: a synergy of science and poetry transcends expectations

Poetry and science are two things generally not associated with each other, in fact if you joined the two in a word association test you would be one step closer to a chemical cosh and your very own padded cell. However the audience attending the Science Slam at the packed out Nexus Art Cafe Thursday night will never again doubt the validity of the two pursuits being combined; though I can’t rule out they may end up bouncing of the walls of a padded cell at some time in the future.

The Science Slam was one of many events on the first day of the Manchester Science Festival, which runs until the 1st of November at venues across Greater Manchester. The experimental collaboration was thought up by Dr Sam Illingworth and Mr Dan Simpson who also performed at and hosted the event on the night.

 Video highlights of the Science Slam

Simpson, the poet of the duo who also writes about science, described how he and Illingworth had thought up the event:

“Originally it was going to be what a slam is, which is poets and scientists doing three minutes of material, having scores at the end and the highest score wins. But as we chatted more we realised that wasn’t the best way to do it, putting science and poetry against each other, so we decided to get them to collaborate.”

This resulted in the evenings format of 5 local poets teamed up with a scientist each to create and perform 5 unique pieces on the night.

Teams:

  • Adrian Davison (scientist) & Lenni Sanders (poet)
  • Rebecca Docherty (scientist) & Dominic Berry (poet)
  • Ben Spencer (scientist) & Rebecca Audra Smith (poet)
  • Jo Browse (scientist) & Louise Fazackerley (poet)
  • Tim Walton (scientist) & Kieren King (poet)

Illingworth, a Lecturer in Science Communication at Manchester Metropolitan University was extremely pleased with how the show had been created, performed and received. “It wasn’t the poetry of science, it wasn’t the science of poetry, it was genuinely something interdisciplinary and it was amazing. I loved it, the audience loved it, and I feel incredibly privileged to have worked with such an incredible group of people.”

Conrad Bower

First published in the Manchester Mule, 25th October 2015

Further Information:
Manchester Science Festival – http://www.manchestersciencefestival.com
Dan Simpson – https://dansimpsonpoet.wordpress.com
Dr Sam Illingworth – http://thepoetryofscience.scienceblog.com/author/thepoetryofscience

The Eve of War

Recently received a present of a set of postcards with Penguin science fiction book covers on them. I decided to put them to the The Eve of the War from Jeff Waynes musical version of War of the Worlds. I used to read a lot of sci-fi as a teenager and it was the genre that first got me into reading books. After a long lay off I am now rediscovering my love of sci-fi.

Mancu on the fulcrum of the year

I have created a new poetry form to celebrate the greatest day in the year, which if you didn’t already know is the 2nd of July. I have decided to call the form Mancu, because it sounds a bit like Haiku, and I have adopted Manchester as MY city. The poem is entitled Fulcrum.

I know fuck all about poetry so maybe this isn’t new, or poetry, let me know.

Resistance Songs

I was inspired by the news of the Dutch people succesfully prosecuting their government for not doing enough about climate change. The first track was brought to mind by the name of the organisation passing on the news GetUp! The organisation that actually brought about the case is called Urgenda.

So if the government’s insane policies are getting you down, this is the perfect playlist to perk you up a bit and possibly put some fire in your belly. Enjoy.

A Poem by George

I met George Watt in St Peter’s Square, Manchester. We were both there to support the Homeless Rights of Justice Manchester protest camp. He is originally from an Irish traveller family and told me he had previously been homeless himself. When he had seen the protest on the evening news he had to come down to help them.

George was one of the first people to sell the Big Issue in Manchester in the early 90s.He was full of praise for the Big Issue and said that it had ‘turned his life around’ and helped him into accomodation after a long spell of homelessness. The big Issue had originally been set up in Swan St Manchester, by Ruth Turner and her partner, but has now moved to a new site.

George also mentioned having a chat with Prince Phillip of Spain when he came looking round the Big Issue office with the Prince of Wales. He had a poem to recite, I have included a transcribed version and the audio version can be heard below along with a montage of photos from the various protest sites .

I Cried on a Sunday

‘I cried on a Sunday the salt in my tears was stinging my eyes
We moan about the weather the snow and the rain
It helps us forget about the sorrow and pain
We seem to be content within our own bubble
Turn a blind eye to others and all of their troubles

I have spent sixty years looking for the meaning of life
Is it a job, a home, two children and a wife?
There is a time in our lives to take off our blinkers
To take notice of others become more of a thinker
We all have a duty to look out for others
Fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers

Just try to do a good deed a day
Inside your heart you will find your own pay
A good deed can be fleeting, you might miss it if you blink
Most people are kind hearted but seldom stop to think
And it’s the thought that counts.’

George Watt