New Diversity Trust Newsletter

My colleagues at The Diversity Trust have put together another newletter highlighting our work over the past few months. you can read or download it here (PDF).

The contents include a report from one of our happy training clients. (I was so pleased to be able to deliver trans awareness training in Taunton.) There’s also a great little article on pronouns by my colleague, Aaron. And my 15 minutes of fame being featured in BBC Online has been turned into an article too. Any excuse to re-use one of those fabulous Lou Abercrombie photos, eh?

County Cricket – Down to the Wire

County cricket and nail-biting excitement are not terms that are generally used together. The County Championship is old-fashioned cricket played the way God intended before she realized that T20 games could be a whole lot of fun. Matches are played over four days and often end in draws. It is enough to send your average American sports fan into a coma.

This year, however, is different. As we entered the final week of matches, three teams were in with a shot at the title. Excitingly the top two teams, Middlesex and Yorkshire, were due to play each other at the “Home of Cricket”, Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. Lord’s is the home ground of Middlesex, and Yorkshire are the defending champions. It was a perfect set up.

Except that there was a joker in the pack. Way out in Taunton, tiny Somerset had a game against a hapless and already relegated Nottinghamshire side. It looked like an easy win for the cider boys, and if the two titans of the game slugging it out in London fought each other to a draw, then the cheeky West Country lads could sneak off with the title.

Today was day 3 of the matches. There was much excitement during the day regarding matters of bonus points, but I will spare you the neepery and cut to the chase.

As expected, Somerset wrapped up a victory easily — with a day to spare, in fact. They missed out on only a single bonus point and so racked up a lot of points. They now sit happily on top of the table.

Meanwhile in London fortunes swung back and fore. Yorkshire currently have the upper hand, but there’s a whole day to play and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Middlesex could get a win. Sides have come back from worse positions before. A win for either side will net enough points for the title.

Or it could rain all day. Who knows?

We’ll find out tomorrow. The bookmakers have Yorkshire as firm favorites. They are they reigning champions. They know how to win. And there is enough playing time for them to get there. But Somerset have points in the bag. If Yorkshire slip up tomorrow, something momentous might happen.

In thinking of how to explain this to Americans, my first thought was to talk about the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs were founder members of Major League Baseball and have a history dating back to 1876. They haven’t won the World Series since 1908 (though this year they look to be hot favorites). But they have won, twice.

Somerset’s cricket club was founded in 1875. County cricket was started by Yorkshire and Gloucestershire in 1890, and Somerset was the third team to join the tournament in 1891. In all of that time they have never won the championship.

Tomorrow we could see a little bit of cricketing history being made.

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

Today is November 5th, or as us old folks say, “Guy Fawkes”. I say “old folks” because the tradition of Guy burning has pretty much died out. Indeed, an American ex-pat friend of mine tweeted today that she’s been in the UK for 9 years and has never yet seen anyone ask for a “penny for the Guy”, or seen a bonfire be anything other than a bonfire. These days the festival is known as “Bonfire Night” and, given the health and safety concerns surrounding fireworks, it is increasingly being replaced in the popular imagination by Hallowe’en.

That’s kind of ironic, because Hallowe’en is a much older festival than Guy Fawkes. The date of the Gunpowder Plot is a matter of historical fact. However, given the religious nature of the Plot, I am sure that the Protestant rulers of the UK found it useful to be able to impose a celebration at almost the same time as the old Catholic festival of All Saints Day (also known as All Hallows, so the day that Hallowe’en preceeds). And of course All Hallows Day was, in turn, a Catholic invention intended to replace the old Celtic festival of Samhain. We have almost come full circle.

These days, of course, fear of Catholics is much less prevalent than it was, even 20 years ago. No one worries about Catholic terrorists anymore, at least in England. The Prime Minister is even proposing to allow the monarch to marry a Catholic, which would have caused an outcry when I was a kid. So it is perhaps appropriate that we no longer spend one night a year burning an effigy of a Catholic terrorist. Indeed, thanks to David Lloyd and V for Vendetta we have re-imagined Guido Fawkes as an anarchist revolutionary rather than a right-wing religious fundamentalist. Clearly there is a need for such a figure.

For an historical point of view, however, something is being lost. Guy Fawkes Day has been a grand tradition here for centuries, and some communities have made a very big deal of it. If you still want to celebrate the failure of Guido Fawkes and his fellow conspirators, Darkest Somerset is a good place to go.

Hundred Stories Update

You may recall Liz Williams commented on my mention of her Hundred Stories project to the effect that donations under $100 were OK, but there were problems with PayPal accepting them. It appears there is some sort of issue between IndieGoGo and PayPal, so Liz has put a donate button on her LJ. She says she’ll add anything received there to the project. Details here.

Digging Up The Dark

I often joke about living in Darkest Somerset (which I don’t quite now as Trowbridge is just over the border into Wiltshire), and these days the country doesn’t amount to much save for a cricket team famous for losing finals. Years ago, however, Somerset was one of the more important parts of Britain. And of course a few millennia back Wiltshire was home to the civilization that built Stonehenge. So archaeology is important here. I like to support it.

Now it so happens that Liz Williams’ partner, Trevor, is embarking on a Masters degree in community archaeology that will involve a project somewhere close to their home in Glastonbury. No, Trevor isn’t going to dig up Arthur & Guinevere. That grave is mediaeval fake. There are plenty of other sites worth investigating, including the Sweet Track, an ancient causeway across the Somerset Levels. (That was one of the things I took Kevin to see when we did a whistle-stop tour of Somerset a few years ago.)

As Liz explains here, doing this requires money for tuition fees, and she’s helping out by running a funding campaign on Indiegogo. The minimum donation is $100, which I guess will be a bit steep for many of you, but the premium is rather impressive. Liz says:

I’m starting the Hundred Stories Project. From January 1st, 2012, I’ll be writing a story a day, about the people who have lived in and around Glastonbury from Neolithic times. You’ll get 7 stories at the end of each week, plus the extra. They’ll be short stories, a page for each person, and when the project is finished I’ll be binding the stories for display.

There’s also a $1,000 level option that involves a 4-day stay with Liz & Trevor and a guided tour of the area.

If you want to participate, the project page is here.

A Local Issue

This post is really only relevant to folks who live in the Bath and Bristol area. Via my friend Eugene Byrne I have learned that Venue magazine, a “what’s on, arts and cultural magazine” for the local area, is threatened with closure. Eugene gives the story, and explains what you can do to help, on his blog. Simon Gurr has been tweeting in support of Venue too. It sounds like they are good folks.