The Anarchist Bookfair used to be at Conway Hall in Red Lion Square, then, having outgrown the Conway Hall, it moved to the Euston Centre (off Euston Road), then last year it moved to ULU on Malet Street.
By common consensus ULU was a disaster last year, and everyone wished to see it relocate back to the Camden Centre, so to say the least, I was bloody annoyed to see it back at ULU (as was everyone I spoke to).
This year, being late, the Anarchist Bookfair clashed with the annual Third World Fair Trade Fayre which is held every year at Conway Hall. I have a feeling the Fairtrade Fayre may have been in the past a little later, as I seem to remember it being early December, but I may be wrong.
Within walking distance of each other, and not having been to the Fairtrade Fayre for a couple of years, I looked in there first. It was hot and overcrowded, and once you have seen one, you have seen them all. I whizzed round, picked up any interesting literature, grabbed a bite to eat (with the money raised being ploughed back into Indian villages), then on the point of leaving, I heard an Indian band playing. I don't know who they were, but they were bloody good, so I remained until they had finished their gig. I left them my contact details so maybe they will get in touch. It was a pity they had no CDs on sale.
One of the advantages of the Euston Centre, is that Veggies do the food. They were sorely missed at the Anarchist Bookfair last year. Another advantage of the Euston Centre is that you can spill out into the pub across the road.
On my arrival at ULU, I was pleasantly surprised to find Veggies outside. But why should they be relegated to sitting outside in the damp and the cold?
One of the biggest disadvantages of ULU, is that the stalls are split over two floors. The advantages, I am told, is that there are plenty of meeting rooms. Yes there are, and lots of meetings were taking place, but not a single one had a notice pinned on the door to say what was going on inside.
The lower floor was hot and overcrowded. I gave up trying to push my way through, and went up to the upper floor. By way of detour, an interesting exhibition of subverts. I resisted the strong temptation to roll them up and take them away.
The upper floor was far better, not so crowded and lots of interesting stalls – Undercurrents, Indymedia, Corporate Watch, SchNEWS.
It was good to see the guys from Undercurrents, having spent the previous weekend partying with them at the annual BeyondTV film festival down in Swansea (and of course watching films).
It was nice too, to have lots of people come up to me and say, we like your postings on Indymedia, and keep up the good work fighting the corporate bastards.
Indymedia was a stall I wanted to seek out, especially if they had some techies on hand. I wanted to find out why their system was so flaky. Apparently a victim of its own success. The servers can not handle the traffic.
The other reason I wanted to seek out Indymedia was that last year they were running off copies of CDs with lots of interesting video clips, mini-documentaries, animations, etc. Not knowing what I'd get, I only got one, a decision I immediately regretted when I saw how good they were.
This year I saw they had loads more. I was spoilt for choice, only the price had gone up. But I cannot complain as it was a fund raising exercise for the new servers. I spent over £20, and later when I discovered they had a catologue, I could have got more, but these were not copied, and it was too late in the day to copy more.
What I got was of variable video quality, although I should add I view on a high quality laptop, and probably more than acceptable on a TV screen.
Additional comments to the Indymedia technical handout (also found on every disc): Most will not play on MS Media Player, but will play on the VLC media player which can be found on most of the discs. A bit klunky, but VLC media player will play almost any media format. The only format I found VLC media player has problems with was quicktime. A few of the discs had an alternative quicktime player, but I found it did not work.
A useful hint: Close everything down and reboot the computer before running VLC media player. It then runs a lot better.
I would also add worth getting is AnyDVD, which allows the playing of all region DVDs, even if your DVD drive has defaulted to one region.
A lost opportunity by Undercurrents at the previous weekend's BeyondTV film festival. Copy off these CDs, sell for a couple of quid, and they sell like the proverbial hotcakes - you end up selling loads, get the information out to a wider audience, and raise much needed funds.
Indymedia also had available a CD with Open Source software which I thought was a good idea. This for example, is written using Open Office. At times a bit kludgey, but better than using Microshit.
I would have liked to have seen Firefox which is regarded as an Open Source superior alternative to Microshit Internet Explorer. Although having tried Firefox, I was not overly impressed.
Something else worth picking up is PGP, to keep communications encrypted and safe from prying eyes. Had I thought of it, I could have dropped off a disc to the Indymedia stall containing PGP and a workshop.
Not having looked at the lower floor, I popped back down to find it was already cleared. This caused quite an uproar. Apparently all the stalls on that floor were forced to pack up early.
Normally I get back home with piles of hard-to-find books and spend a fortune. But this year, apart from the CDs and DVDs from Indymedia, all I got was the must have, SchNEWS Annual, SchNEWS at Ten – ten years of activism. Well it was Buy Nothing Day! I would have got a copy of the last Do or Die, which was going cheap. I already have it, but nice to have spare copies to give away to friends.
SchNEWS were showing the SchNEWS film, which I regret I did not see. They hope to have copies available, possibly on DVD, in the near future.
After a bite to eat, I went along to the Indymedia FBI, fifth anniversary birthday party in Tufnell Park, Five Birthdays of Insurrection.
Tufnell Park community centre, St George’s church, 49 Tufnell Park Rd, London. The line up includes, Fun-Da-Mental, Rhythms of Resistance, The Rub, Penny Rimbaud (Crass), The Unpeople, with special guests The FBI plus films and more music! Well that's what they promised!
A special plea here. When food is available, please mention in advance. I would have gone straight to the party and not eaten out had I known excellent food was available, and more money is retained within good causes.
An interesting venue for the party, a squatted church. And not your usual Anglo-Saxon church. Quite an impressive building. Visions of the temples in the books by Dan Brown, Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code.
And an impressive atmosphere. Friendly faces serving food and drink. And cheap.
I was very tired, and almost did not make the party. Then on the point of leaving, I stayed an extra hour.
As I left, it was filling up, with a queue down the street trying to get in.
Almost ten years to the day, the founding of the first Indymedia in Seattle for the WTO trade talks. Now one of the largest, if not the largest, news networks in the world.