Why should I care about the Royal Wedding?

The United Kingdom has gone insane. The country has gone gaga over the royal wedding that will take place tomorrow in London.

Special royal wedding souvenirs are everywhere. People from all over the place have thronged the city to witness the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Transport for London (TFL) has issued a limited edition Oyster card to commemorate the marriage.

The wedding is less of a union between two people but a commercialised hyped up event that has attracted many tourists and gotten the Britons excited. The madness began ever since the couple announced their engagement in November 2010.

National holiday

April 29, 2011 has been declared as a national holiday in view of the royal wedding.

Having an extra holiday is great. The wedding falls a week after Easter. Thus, there are just three business days between April 22 and May 2. This could spell disaster for small businesses that are struggling to thrive in the poor economic condition.

The other important things

Storms in Alabama, protests in Syria and Libya; does the United Kingdom care? I think not.

Newspapers are filled with news of the wedding. News channels have gone overboard with the wedding broadcast. Very little news space is given to the important news happening around the world.

Being an Indian studying in London, in the heart of the madness, the British royal family means nothing to me. Therefore the royal wedding also means nothing to me. I don’t know Prince William and Kate Middleton, have never met them before and will probably never meet them ever.

What about the money?

The wedding is a massive expense. The royal family and the Middleton’s will be funding the wedding but security arrangements have fallen on the state treasury, which is actually public money. The debt-ridden city of London is facing spending cuts and people are getting laid off work. The royal family has immense personal wealth that they accumulated over the years through slavery, war and colonisation. It is thus unfair to have taxpayers foot the bill for the extravaganza.

On the bright side, they  have set up The Prince William & Miss Catherine Middleton Charitable Gift Fund so that well-wishers can donate gifts meant for the couple to charity.

With just a few hours left for all the hoopla to end. I hope the city gets back to normal and people get on with their lives as soon as possible.

I am surely going to witness all the madness tomorrow and be a part of this event. Congratulations Prince William and Kate Middleton. Wish you both a happy married life.

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A fairy tale wedding

Every young girl dreams of meeting her Prince Charming, marrying him, becoming a princess, living in a palace and living happily ever after.

Unlike other girls, Kate Middleton’s fairy tale love story will come true tomorrow as she walks down the aisle with Prince William.

The couple dated for several years and their relationship hit rock bottom. They sailed through it and now they can see a happy ending of getting married and living happily ever after.

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown

Kate Middleton will be the centre of attention. Her every movement will be under the watchful eye of the media and of the people. As a public figure she will no longer be able to enjoy the private life she used to have.

She will no longer be able to catch the latest sale at Primark as she will get the best of everything. She will live in the lap of luxury for the rest of her life.

Kate Middleton will be be under tremendous pressure. She will have to meet up to the expectations of the British subjects. She can’t make mistakes. One minute she is the nation’s sweetheart but any flaw could make her a hate figure and everyone will remember it for long.

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Who said pillow fights were only for kids?

We have had pillow fights as kids with our siblings and with friends at sleepovers. This time it was with complete strangers from 1500 to 1530 at Trafalgar Square in London.

The International Pillow Fight Day is celebrated on 2nd April all over the world. The pillow fight is part of the urban playgroup movement – a playful part of the larger public space movement.

The International Pillow Fight Day was started in 2008 by University of Toronto students Kevin Bracken and Lori Kufner.

The International Pillow Fight 2011 was held in 130 locations over the world including Adelaide in Australia, Toronto in Canada, Zurich in Switzerland, Seoul in South Korea, Paris in France and others.

The Rules

  • Fight only with soft pillow. Hard objects are not allowed
  • No feathers as they leave a mess
  • Remove your glasses and then jump in
  • Start when the whistle blows at 1500 and not before that
  • Swing lightly
  • Don’t swing at anyone without a pillow or holding a camera
  • Wear pyjamas and night clothes (no ugly-naked-guys)
  • Don’t take permission to hold the event. Public assembly is a human right.
  • Clean up after the pillow fight

Fund raising

The International Pillow Fight Day 2011 raised money through the sale of memorabilia towards the Japan Tsunami Appeal by the British Red Cross Foundation.

Memorabilia included the ‘whack and keep’ souvenir pillows for £5, t-shirts for £10.50 and tickets for the after party.

The fight

Trafalgar Square was full of people in their nightgowns, jumpsuits, overalls, onesies, fluffy slippers, bathrobes, long john’s and pyjamas.

The whistle blew at 1500 and people of all ages started swinging their pillows. As they were fighting, many pillows exploded and there were innumerable feathers flying all over the place. I was totally trashed and full of feathers but my pillow was intact.

At the end of the fight, many were exhausted and laid down at Trafalgar Square with their heads on their pillows.

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Create your own art

Electronic music and art group Disinformation exhibited its art show “The Origin of Painting” at Usurp Gallery.

Joe Banks, a research fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts at University of Westminster created the exhibition. This exhibition was first displayed at the Hayward Gallery in 2000.

The interactive sound and light installation allows visitors to create their own life-size shadows or draw with a light pen directly onto a wall to produce graffiti, abstracts and portraits.

The light pens are provided by the gallery where the exhibition has been installed.

The Wall

The installation uses blackout fabric and green paint. The fabric and paint are available easily in the market and are quite cheap. Therefore, Joe did not have to invest much money in the exhibition.

Facing the wall are photographic lights that help to create the visitors image. Each photographic light discharges 30,000 volts shock.

Impact

The Origin of Painting is the creation of the artist Joe Banks. However, this interactive installation enthuses and involves the visitor into achieving new heights of creativity.

The Origin of Painting is about how people relate to seeing themselves separated from their own shadows.

In this exhibition, Joe Banks is not the only artist. Even visitors become artists. Not only are the visitors as able to participate in creating images with the light pen but also create their own shadows in different poses.

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The Death of the Fountain Pen

What was once a prized possession in the shirt pockets of a few is now diminishing. People writing with fountain pens aren’t as common as they used to be.

Fountain pen in school

When I was in school, there was a high regard for writing using a fountain pen. I started using a fountain pen in Year IV. Fountain pens were compulsory as they improved the handwriting and can boost the art of calligraphy.

Filling the ink into the pen was an art in itself. I had a separate cloth to wipe off the excess ink and a piece of chalk to absorb blotted ink while writing. The ink stains on the fingers at the end of a school day was a common sight.

The fountain pen today

Today a pen is used as a writing instrument. Gone are the days when if was compulsory for school children to write with fountain pens. Sadly today, many students don’t know how to use a fountain pen while others have not even seen one. A ballpoint pen is cheap, convenient and easy to use.

Go into a shop and ask for a fountain pen and the shopkeeper will look at you as though you are a dinosaur.

Collector’s items

The fountain pen is considered as a collector’s item and as a status symbol. Luxury brands like Mont Blanc and Waterman have a niche market and not meant for the common man.

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Beatlemania Vs. Road Safety

The Beatles fans have been flocking to the Abbey Road zebra crossing in an attempt to recreate the iconic album cover of the Beatles 1969 album titled “Abbey Road”

On the 8th of August, 1969, four famous men – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr of The Beatles walked across a zebra crossing on Abbey Road in London to shoot the cover of their penultimate album titled Abbey Road. Since then, Beatles fans from all over the world flock to Abbey Road to walk across the zebra crossing just like the Beatles did. Ever since the Beatles immortalised the pedestrian crossing in front of EMI studios on the cover of the 1969 album, over one hundred and fifty thousand (150,000) people make a pilgrimage to this famous Beatles site in London each year. This number was estimated in 2005 by EMI studios now renamed as Abbey Road studios.

Due to its popularity, the crossing was given Grade II Listed Building status by the English heritage in December 2010. The pedestrian crossing has a speed limit of 30 miles per hour and has witnessed 22 deaths since the year 2000. This has attracted the attention to the councillors of the City of Westminster who are planning to relocate the crossing over fears that the number of people posing for photographs in the middle of the road is causing accidents and holding up traffic.

Beatle Mania

“You cannot come to London and not do Abbey Road,” says Hannah Achen from Germany. “I think this road should have no traffic. We love The Beatles and Abbey Road is the greatest album,” adds Wendy Afonso from Poland.

I stood at the zebra crossing on Abbey Road and observed fans as they attempt to recreate the cover of The Beatles album Abbey Road. They were causing chaos.

Sam Williams from Tennessee, USA came to London with three friends and enacted the Beatles album cover. He said, “We are from Tennessee, United States. We actually just got into London today. We came here because the Beatles were here and yes I did enact Paul McCartney.” “We came to Abbey Road because its famous and we wanted to be here and have a look what it was like and of course take a picture,” adds Maria Brown.

Frank Nowak, a photographer who takes pictures of the Beatles fans on Abbey Road. “I come here almost everyday and I ask tourists if they want to take private pictures. I try to stand in the middle of the road and take pictures when there is less traffic,” says Frank.

The crazy things fans do.

“The craziest thing a fan has done so far that I have taken a picture of is a wedding scene, the Royal Family and a naked man,” says Frank, a photographer at Abbey Road.

Richard Porter is the owner of the Beatles Coffee Shop and a Beatles expert who does the Beatles walking tours. “Some fans forget about the cars and they see people standing in the middle of the road taking a picture, which is not a good idea,” said Richard. “The first time I did the tour, I had these guys from East Germany. The place they wanted to see the most was Abbey Road and when they saw the crossing, they were overcome and burst into tears. I have seen people going down their hand and kneeled and kissing the crossing in the middle of the road,” he added.

The live webcam

The Beatles recorded almost all of their albums and singles at Abbey Road studios between the years 1962 and 1970. In August 2010, Abbey Road studios installed a high definition camera that streams live footage of the Abbey Road zebra crossing on its website. The footage shows the dangerous lengths Beatles fans go to just to imitate the 1969 album cover and get the perfect picture just like the one clicked by photographer Iain Macmillan.

“Watching images from the camera is fun. It shows people on the crossing and it gets people to the Abbey Road Studios website as well. People over the world watch the webcam,” says Richard Porter, owner of the Beatles Coffee Shop and a Beatles expert.

Safety hazards

Arthur Smith, a Beatles fan said, “I just came with my friends. I think there are definitely hazards but it seems pretty safe. I would be pretty annoyed if I were a motorist. I felt really awkward walking across and tried to keep it to a minimum of two crossings down and back.”

Some residents and motorists have expressed their concerns about fans creating a ruckus in the area. “I’ve been driving up and down the Abbey Road since 18 months now. It is annoying. All the fans do is pose on the crossing. There is somebody who is going to get knocked down one of these days,” says Damien, a Taxi driver.

However, Reg thinks otherwise. “I think it’s quite nice but sometimes when the traffic is bad it can become a bit of a pain. Everyone wants to get a photo. Sometimes we just push our way through the people who are waiting to cross. It is distinguishing who is waiting to cross the road and who is waiting to get a photo on the crossing.”

Resident’s ire

“I have been living here for 23 years in this block on the left. We find it’s a great problem for as they tend to damage our property,” says Martin Brown, a resident.

“This is a zebra crossing and it is by law that motorists have to stop. Many tourists and fans ask us if we know where Paul McCartney lives and what his address is. But we say we don’t know,” says Nicola Johnson.

I find it is quite bad for the driver because it is dangerous. I think if they just step on the pavement and take some photographs it’s OK but not keep crossing and wait in the middle of the road. It’s very dangerous,” says Kiki Ling.

Graffiti

It is a tradition for Beatles fans to pay homage to the band by writing on the walls of Abbey Road studios where the Beatles and many other famous artists have recorded their albums. The wall containing the fan graffiti is painted regularly.

“The graffiti on the walls of the studio is ugly and spoiling the area,” says Martin Brown.

The Legacy

The Beatles no longer exist but 41 years after the release of the album, their legacy still lives on. This pedestrian crossing looks just like any ordinary crossing but remains as popular as ever with fans continuing to risk their lives to capture the ideal photograph.

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Finders keepers or imprisonment?

What would you do if you found a £10 note fallen down on the road? Would you rather hand it over to authorities or keep it with the justification “finders keepers, losers weepers”?

Essex resident Sacha Hall, 21, was accused for helping herself to food items such as potato waffles, pies and ham that had been thrown out by Tesco following a power cut.

The police arrested Sacha from her home for an offense called “theft by finding”. The offense carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment of seven years.

Theft by finding

If a person finds an object, he should assume that the original owner would claim it back and not think of it as a freebie.

The finder should take reasonable steps to find the owner and hand it in to the police. If the finder keeps the object, he will be charged for theft by finding. The person in possession of stolen goods is liable for prosecution.

The Theft Act, 1968

In English law, Section 1 of The Theft Act, 1968 states the definition of a theft as “A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it; and ‘theft’ and ‘steal’ shall be construed accordingly.”

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Harry Potter whizzes into Warner Bros. profit pocket

November 19, 2010 was a red-letter day for all Harry Potter fans around the world. The first part of the final book of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows released worldwide on that day. The second part will be released in July this year.

Prior to the release of the film, Harry Potter fans were excited and had been trying high and low to obtain tickets for the worldwide red carpet premier that took place at the Odeon at Leicester Square in London on November 11, 2010

Tickets for the first day first show were also selling fast with advance booking opening three weeks earlier.

Department stores had already started stocking Harry Potter memorabilia like the round-rimmed glasses, witch and wizards robes and hats, broomsticks and Gryffindor neckties which are leaving the shelves quickly. In spite of the all the hype surrounding the Harry Potter series, the film managed to rake in $826m worldwide in less than two months since its release in November 2010.

You can hear the whole package here.

References:

1.     Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows trailor from the Warner Brothers website:

http://harrypotter.warnerbros.co.uk/hp7a/index.html

2.     Harry Potter helps Warner Bros win 2010 box office battle

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/media/8224334/Harry-Potter-helps-Warner-Bros-win-2010-box-office-battle.html

Disclaimer: This post is a part of an assignment

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Who will benefit from the snow?

UK has been reeling under snow since the last few days. The metrological department has issued weather warning of a mix of sleet, snow and rain

As temperatures hit sub-zero, some people gain from adverse weather conditions while others suffer losses. Here is a look at the winners and the losers due to the snow.

The Winners

School children are the happiest as schools as closed. They are likely to enjoy a longer vacation.

A well-heated mall is always a blessing to those stranded outside in the cold. Departmental stores may have expected a drop in footfalls due to heavy snowfalls. However, the sale of winter wear, sweaters, jackets and thermal clothing are surely booming. Sales of sledges and shovels have also increased.

Tyre companies are making hay while the sun shines. There has been a sudden increase in demand for winter tyres.

With people getting ready to begin Christmas shopping, the snow may ruin shopping plans. Online stores will be flooded with orders as long as they can deliver the product despite transport problems. Amazon UK has posted a warning stating “Deliveries in some areas of the country may be affected by adverse weather conditions.”

If the snowfall continues, people may resort to panic buying by stocking up on canned food and soup.

The losers

City councils are shelling out amounts as high as £1.2 bn. Not only do they have to invest in salt but also in manpower to clear the snow.

Scotland is worst hit. All six Scottish Premier League football matches have been postponed.

Businesses are running losses as employees are unable to each their workplace. Employees are unable to stick to their travel plans as trains and flights are cancelled.

NHS will have to treat more people for winter-related illnesses. The number of people visiting the A & E with injuries from slips, falls and other ice and snow accidents has increased.

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Enjoying free labour or helping students?

Entering the media industry is a challenge. The lucky ones are those who are at the right place at the right time while others need a godfather in the industry or pursue an (unpaid) internship.

Journalism has not only been a passion but a way of life for me. As a child, I was curious to find out about things happening around me and developed a nose for news.

I decided to pursue a career in journalism at the age of 12. Therefore, during my early teenage years, I began writing for my school and parish magazine and then went on to become a part of the editorial team.

My interest in the area drove me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mass media with journalism as a specialisation.

Securing an internship

During the course of my bachelor’s degree, I decided to pursue an internship to enter the industry, gain experience and to create a network of contacts. The education system in India focusses more on marks than on gaining practical exposure. Pursuing an internship was out of choice not out of academic compusion.

I ran from pillar to post knocking on the doors of media companies in search of an internship. I finally got a one-month unpaid internship at a national English daily newspaper in Mumbai.

The lessons

I gained practical knowledge in the mainstream Indian print media as a reporter on the field as well as an editor and page designer on the desk.

I learnt a lot through hands-on experience and in terms of knowledge through co-ordination, co-operation and team work. I learnt that the glamour that is associated with such a job profile is quite an illusion.

Working with people with different attitudes, outlooks and approaches is a complete learning experience in itself. My work experience while reporting on various beats taught me the nuances and realities of a scribe’s life.

The internship was a great way to gain experience, confidence and knowledge about the world of work. In an increasing competitive job market, employers expect prospective employees to have some amount of work experience.

Why is it unpaid?

Interning for a company is totally different from volunteering with a charity. For me the internship was more about the work experience and not about the money. This is not the case for all interns. Many interns cannot afford to work for a month without pay. Coming from a well-to-do family in Mumbai, I was able to afford the unpaid internship along with all the other ancillary expenses that come along with it. It was surely hard on the pocket but I could do it with family support.

While reporting on the field, news progresses very fast. Unless the intern has their own transport which is highly unlikely, they have to rely on public transport. I did not have time to wait for the bus or the train. I had to take a taxi to reach my destination on time and gather news. Taxi fare and conveyance was the major  expense as I did not get a reimbursement. The reason cited by my editor was – “You have come here to learn which you are getting free. Why do you want to get paid for learning?”

Internships provide employers with cheap or free labour. Remunerating interns for their work is the company’s way of appreciating their work however menial it can be.

Intern Aware

Intern Aware is an organisation in the UK that campaigns for paid labour. The organisation strives for the payment of the national minimum wage for interns.

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