Big Issue birthday

Will has written an introduction to this week’s 22nd birthday edition of the Big Issue. Do buy a copy:

“These accounts by Big Issue sellers of their favourite places do not read like conventional descriptions of ‘attractions’; they are the considered opinions of people who know a place bottom up – who’ve experienced it from the perspective of the pavement and cardboard-box-bash; who’ve filtered it through the harsh realisation that to be here, now, is all they have.

“This is the queered topography of people who for most of the time are simply not perceived by the great mass of moving in time-and-money motion, and for that reason they have a poignancy and evocativeness of their own.

Legal boundaries in the touchy-feely arena of human rights

“I often wonder about Tsunami, a sushi restaurant on Voltaire Road in Clapham, south London. Did its proprietor – even for a split-second, as he saw news footage of the great, life-annihilating breakers washing up on the shores of south-east Asia, India and Ceylon – consider a name change?

“In the dark days of January 2005, while casualty figures mounted and the fatalities rotted, might he, she, or they have doodled absentmindedly on a pad, jotting down such alternatives as Massive International Relief Effort, ‘Early Warning System’, or possibly the catchy ‘Humanitarian Aid’? For any of these designations, you might think, would be more sensitive. Or did the sushi master view any such tinkering as mere sentiment?”

Embrace the signs of ageing

“My mother always spoke, not contemptuously, but pityingly of those men who ditched their partners of long-standing in favour of a younger model. ‘I don’t understand it,’ she’d say. ‘At every stage of my life I’ve really only been attracted to men of my own age.’ Of course, some may say that this is all a matter of taste: there are those who relish a disparity in age just as there some who are drawn to others from different countries, or of different races. I’m not so sure; after all, if the analogy were really to obtain, we would have to concede that by and large our culture promotes one ethnic stereotype of beauty – because most certainly that is the case when it comes to age.”