Free Money Day



Buildings burning on the box, refuges, homes, forests in flames. Night after night. Be good to do something, anything. So last Thursday I made a start. But first back to the Wednesday before.  My wife and I eating our evening meal on the sofa. Pointless soap opera on the tv. My wife says.

-So tell me again. I wasn´t really listening.

-I want to give money away.

-OK, whose money would that be?

-My money.

She cuts me a sideways glance.

-Our money. I say.

-How much?

-Twenty euro.

-Fine. Why do we watch this?

She flips through some channels.

Free Money Day started in 2011 in Australia, and has gone viral, as they say…… sort of. Every 15 September ordinary people take it upon themselves to approach total strangers on the street and give them money. And there´s no catch. Except that they´re asked to pass half of what…

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A Budget to be proud of…..


IMG_0426 Disabled handrail. Thanks to George we know how destructive they can be!

It´s well known that George Osborne and David Cameron are great admirers of the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher. It´s less well known perhaps, that George Osborne is a supporter of gay marriage and equal opportunities for ethnic minorities but that does not mean that a different and dangerous minority group can pull the wool over his eyes.

Because, as you may remember, there was a global financial collapse in 2008 which as today´s budget will testify, had nothing to do with banks, dodgy deals in the City or inflated house prices in the United States, but everything to do with disabled people in Britain, without a thought for the global implications, getting handrails or walking sticks and other aids that, you see, they don´t really need.

For the centerpiece of austerity in George´s budget today will be stopping…

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Conserving Dürer’s Triumphal Arch: a moving experience

British Museum blog

Joanna Kosek, conservator, British Museum

Dürer's paper triumph: the arch of the Emperor Maximillian

The display of Albrecht Dürer’s (1471–1528) monumental Triumphal Arch in the Asahi Shimbun Display in Room 3 in autumn 2014 was a great success. The enormous print, produced at the height of Dürer’s career to glorify the reign of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (r. 1486–1519), appeared appropriately majestic in the softly lit room and attracted over 70,000 visitors in three months. Originally designed to be pasted on the walls of princely castles, the impression at the British Museum was never used as originally intended, and is one of only a handful to have survived. In the Museum the print, which measures four metres by three metres, had been lined onto a textile backing and had long been displayed in a massive frame by the Gallery Café. After the Room 3 show it was time to take the print down to inspect, conserve and…

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The shock of the nude

British Museum blog

Ian Jenkins, Exhibition Curator, British Museum

I’m currently working on the Museum’s major exhibition Defining beauty: the body in ancient Greek art, which opens 26 March 2015. When you see the sculptures on display, you might be forgiven for thinking that the standard dress for men, in ancient Athens especially, was a state of undress. The Greeks, if their art is anything to go by, spent a lot of time starkers.

Although we must separate art from life, nevertheless, they enjoyed many more occasions for nudity than any other European civilisation before or since. The reason why they performed athletics in the nude was said to be because, in the early Olympic Games, a runner lost his knickers and as a result also lost the race. That story may be true or not but either way, it doesn’t explain the true nature of Greek athletic nudity as an expression of…

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Some Moments from Sister Franziska´s Life. Part 7.


Sister Franziska and friends outside the Cafe Emma T.  Photo Katja Harbi. Sister Franziska and friends outside the Cafe Emma T.     Photo Katja Harbi.

Sister Franziska is now eighty two. She has bone cancer. Her hips and spine have, as she says, gone. The cancer cannot be cured. This autumn she will move back to Münster to spend the last part of her life with her Sisters. Her Order, the Sisters of Divine Providence, apologized some years ago now for excluding her from the Community.

In July of this year she celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of her living in the east of Germany. During her years in Berlin Weissensee there were, of course, many challenges.

As she first walked into the kitchen in St Joseph’s Hospital she saw immediately.

“The kitchen was a catastrophe.”

There was a cook. But the Sister was ill and was over eighty. Some of the patients found themselves responsible for the kitchen. And, of course, mentally ill…

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Some Moments from Sister Franziska´s Life. Part 5.


Sister Franziska with friends. Fasching celebration in the DDR

Sister Franziska, ex right. at a Fasching Party in the DDR in the late 1960s.

It’s the 24 June, 1964. Sister Franziska is now thirty two. She is waiting in a queue to cross the border into the DDR. It’s the hottest day of the year. She´s a little afraid of the border, but much more she´s afraid that she will faint before she gets there.

What anyone was allowed to take from West Germany into the old East was strictly controlled and limited. For that reason Sister Franziska and the other Sisters in Münster had thought it would be a good idea today as she set for her new life on the far side of the Wall, for her to wear one nun´s habit over another, and also two blouses, two underskirts, two coats….

“I´m going to die…” she whispered to herself as the queue shuffled forwards.

She tried…

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Some Moments from Sister Franziska`s Life. Part 4.


frances and girlfriends

Frances, second left and friends.

Its the end of the 1950s.

Perhaps she should get married? Maybe that would be a solution? Maybe that could be her future?

The red dress lay on the bed like an accusation, a reproach. Frances was deeply upset and confused. She walked restlessly around her bedroom.

Frances was now twenty six and the terrible years after the war were over. Wilhemina, her mother still needed to take washing in from other families in the village to make ends meet, and over the years all of her father´s carpentry tools had had to be sold, but the family had survived.

Frances has now worked for more than eight years in a hotel. She proved herself to be hardworking and reliable in the kitchen and serving at tables. She had of course learned to cook as a young girl from Wilhemina. But the boss, the daughter…

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