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I’ve been talking about creating a Social Media Surgery in Southampton for over a year now.  I am so delighted that we are running our first session tomorrow at the Shooting Star pub.

We nearly made it last year, but sadly Aris (one of our students) graduated and left the area before we could get going.  But the internet is a marvellous thing. Gavin Barker found details about the surgeries on the Our Society ning created by John Popham.  John pointed him to Nick Booth at podnosh, and whilst putting two and two together suggested he talk to me too.  Why?  I’ve never been to a surgery. I have no direct experience of how they work. What I have done is been surrounded by the energy, enthusiasm and outputs since they began.  I lived in Brum when they started and have spent hours discussing them with Nick.  I think it is such a powerful idea.  That folk who believe in social activism can volunteer to help other volunteers – and others from community organisations.

So we meet tomorrow.  My huge thanks go to a few people, mostly to Gavin who has actually made this happen, to his contact Ben who has helped out with the venue, the venue, and then of course to the surgeons:

Standards nerves around rsvp’s means we have no idea if anyone will actually want any help.  I have absolutely no doubt that the surgeons will be well able to amuse themselves sharing ideas, wowing each other with their work and getting to know other great people.  Working on the strong assumption that people will turn up for help, Gavin has put together a useful crib sheets to give surgeons some ideas of the sort of solutions to offer surgeons.  I’ve popped it into a post on this site here.

So, besides packing my dongles – you can never be too careful with wifi, remembering the camera, and charging up my laptop, I’m good to go.  Wish us luck, and check back soon for a review of how it went.

We recently attended a Burns Night party, in Hampshire.  It was a fabulous evening.  I learnt a lot about Robert Burns, of whom it seems I was mostly ignorant.  We recited and sang his poems, drank toasts, ate haggis and won a quiz on Scotland.

It’s been a long time since a party has left such a mark on me, and it got me thinking.  We’ve left our beloved Brum – and what do we get to show for it.  A script that seeks to defend our fabulous home city against the usual digs and jibes; a list of all the great things that really have come out of the city and an accent that sets us aside from the received pronunciation that is Hampshire.

Well I think we’re missing a trick.  In the month when the nation worries about losing Cadbury‘s to American firm Kraft, I got to thinking surely there is more we can do.

So how about we create some kind of celebration of Cadbury’s heritage and all things chocolate.  It certainly didn’t take us long to come up with a few ideas for a great night:

  • Chocolate – fountains, fondue, bars, boxes of, cakes, puddings you name it.
  • Drinks – hot chocolate, chocolate infused in vodka,
  • Cadbury quiz
  • Chocolate songs – surely there are some!
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on the DVD – or better Chocolat!
  • Purple themed everything

So, I reckon that’s a pretty good recipe – provided of course, you can get the right people there.  What else?

Well to make it really work, we need a mass commitment to it.  So how about a few of us agree to hosting a party in our own home /venue of our choice.  How about we share a quiz, invites, website to capture the event?

Anyone up for it?

I thought we could do it just before Kraft take over – does anybody know when that is?

If you’re interested, leave a comment, if there are more than a couple of us, let’s give it a try.  If it doesn’t catch on, so what, we’ll have had a great time finding out!

It’s a year this week since I first posted my bin blog post.  That makes this blogpost all the more timely.  For the last month we’ve been living in our new flat, where we are blessed by Wheelie Bins.  I say blessed – I do like them – we have room outside to store them and can clear out our rubbish whenever we like – no more missing bins night.  My struggle with them has been that I have no idea how to capture this new habit in a weekly post.  So, I think I won’t.  There is a slim chance that some of you may miss this weekly photo, in which case I’m sorry to disappoint.  There’s a greater chance that I’ll miss the chance to have a go at the Council when they slip up with our service.  But actually I think that’s a price worth paying. I’ll still keep my eye out for interesting or useful Bins stories/photos, but for me it’s time for something new.
What? I hear you cry.  What new form of weird do you have in mind?

Baltis

I have previously been the cockney of the Balti – if indeed that is a claim – I have lived within the smell of a balti restaurant, in the heart of the Balti Triangle in Birmingham.  That smell is one of the things I miss about Brum.  So tonight, we’re going to check out our local.  The Sunrise Balti & Tandoori Restaurant.  I’m not wildly optimistic; it looks rather like the sort of place that squeezed room on its sign for the word balti – and added Chicken and Lamb Balti to its menu.  Though I should say that the review posted on bview is very positive; parking being the only issue, but I guess a 250 yd walk is probably do-able!

Anyway, this is where my new idea leapt from.  I should keep a track of the Balti restaurants we find down here and start to record what they are like.  I’m thinking of noting a few standard measures and commenting against each of them.

Of course, there is no reason to restrict it to down here – I may even begin with a quick word on our favourite for the last 20 odd years: The Punjab Paradise on Ladypool Road, Birmingham.  The picture on the left captures 3 of my friends at a Twalti earlier this year.  I have to say the service was abysmal – never sit upstairs, they just seem to forget you.  But the food was great as ever – and the company too.

I’d be very pleased to hear your ideas of the kind of areas I should be reporting on.  So far I have in mind:

  • location
  • parking
  • warmth of welcome
  • atmosphere
  • menu variety
  • provenance of food
  • taste flavour
  • licensed or not
  • price
  • after-effects

So, let me know what you think, watch this space and the Balti tag and we’ll see how well the Balti has travelled all these miles.

A trip to the tip

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