Sunday, 31 October 2010

Ruth Rikowski's 43rd News Update

Well, overall, this month has not been good; not been good at all, I am sorry to say. Right now, I have really had enough of certain universities – namely, Kingston University London and London South Bank University! Anyway, read below and you will find out more and why (if you want to, that is!).....That and a few other news items (some of which are, thankfully, somewhat more positive) are included in this newsletter.

Well, I have had a real double-whammy this month with these two new universities. Both Kingston University London and London South Bank University have really let me down big time, and put me through a lot of stress and uncertainty – and this continues. To such an extent, that I have had to visit the doctors! There is also the ‘time of life’ factor of course. Still, writing this newsletter in itself has provided some therapy! The more I look at it, the more I seem to appreciate the wonder and beauty of writing, editing and publishing over the university, the supposed ‘seat of learning’

In regard to Kingston University London, in my last newsletter (No. 42) in the first news item I wrote excitedly and enthusiastically about the Letter of Appointment that I had received unexpectedly from Kingston, offering me a position as a Part-Time Lecturer. Well, what happened next, in fact the day after I sent out the newsletter, was that I received a letter also ‘out of the blue’ from a certain Dawn McGuire, Faculty Finance Officer at Kingston, (as opposed to Beverley Reading, the Human Resource Administrator that sent me the formal offer), saying that this had been a mistake! I was informed that the mistake had arisen through them receiving my CV, and from that they had concluded that I was requiring a Part-Time Lecturers contract, whereas in fact, I had been invited to give a guest lecture. Victoria Perselli asked me to send her a copy of my CV back in July 2010 (shortly after she had invited me to give this Keynote Lecture), which she obviously then forwarded to the Finance Office and Human Resources. Shocked? Well, I certainly was. Totally gobsmacked! How can this behaviour go on? Also, I had not pursued work elsewhere, particularly at London South Bank University because I thought I had this Kingston work and did not want to take on too much. What a dreadful way to treat someone, is it not, especially in this current economic climate!

In addition, shortly after I received the letter with the formal offer, I telephoned the Human Resources Department at Kingston to make sure that all was correct in regard to the contract (because as I say, it had come as a surprise). They assured me that all was correct and asked me to send back a signed copy of the letter along with photocopies of my certificates etc, which I duly did. I also emailed Victoria saying how pleased I was, how much I was looking forward to working with her, and enquiring about what teaching I would be doing, my hours of work etc. I also emailed Sense Publishers, asking Peter de Liefde to change my affiliation in my forthcoming digitisation book from London South Bank University to Kingston University London. I cc’ed this to Victoria, and also emailed her separately, checking that she was OK with this. There was no reply. Meanwhile, Dr Glyn Jones at Chandos Publishing Oxford, on the other hand, was happy for me to insert Chandos as my affiliation, so now my affiliation will read ‘Freelance Editor, Chandos Publishing, Oxford’. And that is certainly the way that it will remain for the foreseeable future, that’s for sure!

Anyway, after receiving this letter from the Finance Officer, I immediately phoned ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) informing them about what had happened and seeking their advice. They advised me to consult with an Employment Law Solicitor, for an initial free consultation/interview. I consulted two such solicitors. They were both of the opinion that this was a breach of contract, and that it was something for an Employment Tribunal and I am currently now investigating all this further.

Upon receiving this offer of appointment I naively thought that I was being offered this contract ‘out of the blue’ because of the high regard that they held for my work – you know, kind of ‘head-hunted’ shall we say. Now, this is not actually all that far-fetched, because I am pretty well-known, after all, am I not, and as I have said before various people over the years have approached me directly and ‘out of the blue’ like this, making me various offers and putting various proposals and opportunities my way. Graham Coult, the editor of Managing Information contacted me this way, way back in 2001, asking me if I would like to be the Book Reviews Editor for the magazine. And then, later, Dr Glyn Jones at Chandos Publishing, Oxford, offered me a position as a Commissioning Editor. And in 2003 Professor Michael Peters approached me, asking me if I would like to write an article for his, at the time, new international refereed ejournal Policy Futures in Education. Then later he invited me to edit a special issue for the journal on digitisation and then a book on the same subject with Sense Publishers.

Indeed, I have been approached by a large number of different people over the last few years, for many different reasons, and on a wide variety of topics. And, so I naturally thought that this was something similar. Well, anyway, Victoria inviting me to give the Keynote was an unexpected invitation in itself. After then receiving the contract I thought that the offer of the Keynote Guest Lecture was some informal way of double-checking whether I was what they wanted, and after that (the lecture did go well), they decided that I was, and so sent out the contract. Well, nothing could be further from the truth, it seems. Dear oh dear!

Mind you, as I reflect, other signs did indicate something rather different; so I guess I should have followed my instincts more. What do I mean by this? Well, when I gave my Keynote, Victoria Perselli did not really seem all that interested in my work and my writing, it has to be said (even getting my affiliation wrong in her introduction, saying that I taught at the University of East London rather than London South Bank University). Neither did she distribute copies of my articles to the students even though I laid out copies for people to take (with so much on my mind, I forgot to distribute them myself). People usually take loads of my articles when I give presentations. So, I sent Victoria some copies in the post afterwards but she did not acknowledgement receipt of them and I have no idea whether or not she actually received them and distributed copies. Also, in my lecture I spoke about the importance of trying to preserve the valuable collection housed at the Feminist Library in London. Victoria said, in passing, that perhaps it could be moved to Kingston; somewhat like the way in which the Philosophy Department had been moved from Middlesex to Kingston. But then she quickly made it pretty clear that she did not want to pursue that idea much further.

However, the biggest concern is in regard to the filming of my talk. Toni Samek asked me if it could be filmed (see item 1 in my previous newsletter, No. 42 for a little more information in regard to this). I made this request to Victoria way back in July, shortly after she invited me to speak. I received no reply from her. She went on holiday for a month to Turkey (which apparently she badly needed!). Lucky her – we didn’t manage to get away at all this summer, not even for a weekend, and I told Victoria this. Anyway, just a couple of days before I was due to give my talk, she emailed me asking if the technician at Kingston had been in touch in regard to filming my talk. I replied, saying that he had not, but not to worry, because my son Alexander was willing, happy and able to come and film it on our small digital camera – not ideal, but at least then we would have a recording. Victoria replied, saying that was good, and that probably Alex would be more dedicated to the job anyway, as he was my son (or some such words). And so Alex came along to video it (a long way for him to go). On arrival then, we were most surprised to find a technician from Kingston with some flash, new equipment there; he was also going to film it after all apparently. So, rather than have no film, we now apparently had two films. Strange old life! I then forgot about the filming and got on with my talk. The lecture turned out to be very interactive; they were the type of students that were keen to engage and contribute. That was all very good. Alex filmed the students talking, as well as filming me.

However, upon returning home and watching the video I could see that consent forms from the students that spoke and were videoed would need to be completed. I had some experience of this following on from the speeches at the book launch for my globalisation book. Deian Hopkin, the then Vice-Chancellor introduced this; I explained to him that someone from the States wanted to come over and film the whole thing, and asked him how best to proceed in regard to this. He said that all the speakers would need to complete consent forms, saying that they were happy to be filmed; but not that everyone at the book launch had to complete these forms. It seemed obvious to me then, that the students that Alex actually filmed needed to sign the consent forms. I emailed Victoria about this. She replied saying that some of the students had been concerned about the filming, even though they had enjoyed my lecture and it had generated much food for thought. She was not happy about the existence of the films. I replied saying, that how then, did she propose to raise some of the important issues that I talked about, particularly in regard to the possible digitisation of some of the Feminist Library material, as this was something that she had actually inspired me to think about. I suggested coming to Kingston again perhaps, giving another similar talk for payment, but this time, getting the consent forms signed properly (I also cc’ed all of this to both Toni Samek and Anne Welsh; as I wrote the original article about the Feminist Library with Anne). Victoria did not reply to this. When I got the contract in the post, I thought I understood why. Victoria was making me a better offer; and a better offer for the Feminist/Marxist cause in general of course. Rather than just doing a one-off lecture raising awareness about the topic, I was being offered an actual Lecturing position there, which would give me/us ample time and space to be able to explore and promote these topics further. Can you wonder that I became so excited? But apparently, nothing was further from the truth!

In addition, when Victoria and I went out to dinner afterwards, in terms of publications we really only talked about Marxism and education stuff; including her own chapter for a book with Palgrave Macmillan, based on the Marxism and Education: Renewing Dialogues III seminar. Neither did she seem unduly concerned that Glenn Rikowski was no longer involved in the book series, or with the MERD seminars in general come to that. Instead, she spoke about how she was also going to re-jig her chapter and use it elsewhere; and within this context she mentioned the Discourse, Power and Resistance conference. I am shocked to discover Marxist Educators treating each other this way, I must say. Having said that, on another level I should not be shocked; I have had many indications giving a different, even opposing message; see item 5 in this newsletter below, for one such example. Is it any wonder then that Glenn’s enthusiasm for it all has somewhat waned? Or perhaps the message that they are trying to send out is that Glenn should separate from me; divorce me, because I am no good to him; hindering him with his Marxism and education stuff? But if that is the case, then why are they not keener to promote Glenn’s work better and more effectively in its own right? In all of those MERD seminars that Glenn organised, for example, we received no indication that the people that attended had actually read and engaged with Glenn’s work all that much; it seemed to us that they used it all more for their own career purposes, than anything else (although some used it for political reasons – e.g. Movement for a Socialist Future). But it does seem to us that the main ‘name of the game’ for the academics is to use Marxism and Education, both in terms of the seminars at the Institute and publishing with Palgrave Macmillan, to further their own careers, as well as helping them to cope with their, at times, difficult academic lives; having to deal with organisations and inconsistent policies etc. MERD-stuff was a way of ‘cheering them up’; a legitimate and safe way of enabling them to ‘think outside the box’. And of course, Glenn by putting Marxism and Education back on the map in this way, through all his hard work (both practically and theoretically), re-invigorating it, making it respectable once again and taking it to new pastures, has made all this possible. Again, dear oh dear! Victoria also mentioned the fact that she was the external examiner for the education department at Middlesex University where Dave Hill now works. All this should have been a clear warning to me. But there you go – we live and learn!

So much for me re-invigorating my enthusiasm for MERD-type stuff a little in my last newsletter - that was clearly a big mistake. So much, also, for me speaking so warmly and positively about Victoria – how wrong could I have been!

This is no way to treat supposed fellow Marxist Feminists (or indeed, any human being in general) is it - and when I phoned Victoria, about this supposed ‘mistake’, she was cold and distant, and said that the ‘mistake’ was nothing to do with her, and there was certainly no hint of an apology. In fact, it was almost cruel. I came away from the phone upset. Why ever did I give her all that praise in my last newsletter (No. 42) I kept asking myself? I only sent my CV to Victoria; she was the only one that could have forwarded it to Human Resources, so the blame simply cannot be laid completely at the door of Human Resources. At the very least, Victoria’s wording in the email that she sent, forwarding my CV, must have been ambiguous, and that is very serious, when it concerns people’s work and way of life; and ends up upsetting ones lifestyle. And as I say, because of this, I did not seek employment elsewhere, and now I find myself currently without any university work. Great! And I am supposed to take all this in my stride, am I?

In regard to London South Bank University, well this one has been brewing up for a long time, so is not such a shock, but even so, it is very serious; on one level, more serious in fact, as I have invested a lot of time and energy into South Bank over the years in one way or another. It is shocking to witness that writing and publications, apparently, are given so little regard there, or is perhaps something else going on, such as prejudice? Anyway, I was not given any teaching work at South Bank this semester. This did not over concern me much at the time because I thought I had the Kingston work; and that would have been postgraduate work, which I prefer. But after the letter from Dawn McGuire, I obviously had to rethink things. I quickly made contact with the union (University and College Union), and a meeting was arranged at London South Bank University. Following on from this, there was a meeting on 20th October 2010 that included my Head of Department, Milo Crummie, Dipo from Human Resources, Stephen Bellas, the union representative and Lee Rose, as a friend and writing colleague.

To begin with, I asked if I could tape-record the meeting and I was informed by both Dipo and Milo that I could not. Great! I wanted to do this, because when I had a meeting with Milo on my own which included talking about me studying for the teaching certificate a few years ago, Milo said that if I did that, he would then make sure that I had some teaching work, but as you can see, that certainly has not come about – far from it. So, clearly, trust is breaking down here. But anyway, it couldn’t/didn’t get tape-recorded. So that was that.

I asked why I had not been given any teaching work this semester; I also asked who was teaching on the course that I taught on this time last year, and whether there were any hourly paid/sessional lecturers teaching on the course, or whether it was only full-timers. Milo said that he thought that there was one sessional, but that he could not be sure. I asked him if he would go and check this, but he said that he was not prepared to leave the meeting to do that. I looked to Lee Rose for support; I wanted him to ask Milo to go and check the time-table/staffing, but no joy there either. And this was despite the fact that it was only due to me that Lee started getting his writing published at all anyway. I find this very strange; the ‘pen is mightier than the sword’ in many ways, but people largely do not want to acknowledge this until they actually get stabbed (heavens – got to bring a bit of humour into this!). Anyway, I then said, well ‘forget about that one’ then. Lee Rose asked what the criteria for selection was. Milo said that it was to do with ones area/level of expertise. I said that I had loads of experience; and asked what experience the person had that was doing the work now. But as I say, I was getting nowhere. Steve Bellas asked if I had ever been appraised; Milo said that I had not and that I had never asked to be. We both referred to the teaching certificate that I studied for though.

I then moved the meeting on. As I had not been given any work, and leading on from the European Directive and the 4-year rule, this meant that, in effect, I have been Unfairly Dismissed, I said, and that as such this would be something for an Employment Tribunal. Milo disagreed with this, and said that it had to be looked at over the whole academic year, and not just one semester. But, at this point Dipo in Human Resources seemed to be getting a bit jittery and I could see that his thought processes were immediately then going down the redundancy path. ‘Quick – send her out a redundancy letter, with a 7-week notice period, and let’s finish this matter, for heavens sake’, he seemed to be thinking. I pushed for this; I wanted clarity. Either I am given work; I take out a legal case on an Unfair Dismissal charge, or I am made redundant and given some redundancy money and a package. Dipo’s thoughts were going quickly down the redundancy path, which is what certain people had been angling for, for some time anyway, I feel sure – all because I have got a mind of my own and write and publish boldly. I am too dangerous it seems; I write and think too much! Is that what comes then from choosing to work at new universities, where I thought I might help some of those students that are not so well-off in various ways? Or is something else going on? Is it prejudice? Perhaps, they do not like white educated women with working-class accents! I explained though, that this would not be a free ride/a free ticket. If the redundancy path was chosen, then I would write articles and make it all very public in prominent places. I told Dipo something about my writing and publications, especially in regard to my Knowledge Management book and the fact that the then Vice-Chancellor, Deian Hopkin, wrote a Foreword for it and that there were contributions from other academics at South Bank. This cut a bit of ice with him, but not overmuch. When I said that I would write and expose it all, he seemed to think that I would write some boring report, that could be forgotten and put in the bin. He seemed a little bit more concerned, when I made it clear that I would make it public; although not overly-so, it has to be said. I said that part of the remit of a university was research (along with teaching etc as well of course). And that to ignore writers was rather like going into a bakers shop, but not being able to buy bread, but only being able to buy cars. It was a complete nonsense. I said that you would think that a university would be bending over backwards to try to encourage people such as myself who write and publish to stay, rather than seeking to give them the boot. Furthermore, that I had inspired many students, including those from the developing world, particularly with the guest lectures that I had given to masters students (on the MBA) on topics such as globalisation, knowledge management, leadership etc.

Milo said that it was possible that I would be offered some work next semester, but not likely. If we go through a whole year with no work, then I can see that it will be easier for them to go down the redundancy path. I need to think this all through more, but so far, the clarity that I seek from them still very much remains elusive. I also really want and need to look towards the future.

In general, though, this all certainly makes you think. To what extent are universities (especially perhaps the new ones) places for new ideas and theories, critical thinking, writing etc, rather than just being sophisticated sausage-making factories, churning out ‘rubber-stamped’ graduates, one wonders. Also, of course, the old universities are starting to take on some of the ways of the new universities anyway of course; the new universities are now the leading lights, the beacons it seems (talk about ‘putting the cart before the horse’). Consistency in academic standards is essential for sanity and survival, but somehow, the universities are trying to bypass this one; indeed, to turn it on hits head, in many ways. When it comes to the marking and giving of degrees, there is still a lot of consistency; indeed, that is what we have moderation meetings for. But in other areas it ‘goes out of the window’. I remember our son Alexander talking about one of the lectures he had at King’s College, where the lecturer was talking about the inconsistency and irrationality in policy (leading on from the proposed redundancies at King’s at the time), whilst the lecturers were in the business of trying to teach students logic and consistency. Crazy eh. This is the type of thing that we are now starting to witness starting to take place more and more in universities.

On a final note, if anyone has any suggestions in regard to how I might best handle/deal with any of this, then please do please feel free to get in touch!

There are 7 new items up on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog. There are four reviews of novels; two items about feminism and one about musicians.

The book reviews are for the following novels: ‘North and South’ by Elizabeth Gaskell; ‘Shadows in the Watchgate’ by Mike Jeffries; ‘To be the Best’ by Barbara Taylor Bradford and ‘Hold the Dream’ by Barbara Taylor Bradford.

Also, two people made contact with me, saying that they liked my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog, which was nice, and then told me about a couple of short pieces about feminism on the web, asking me if I would include a link to these pieces on my blog. I agreed, and so, there are now these two entries. One is entitled ’10 Fascinating Sub-Movements within Feminism’ and the other is entitled ’10 Essential Works of Feminist Fiction’. I think the titles are fairly self-explanatory!

Finally, there is an item about how Elton John is supporting talented musicians, which I think is truly wonderful. Doing something positive for young people, rather than keep ‘putting the boot in’, which is what these politicians seem to be largely about. Let us hope that this is something that can be built on further by Elton himself, as well as by some other musicians.

I went to this ‘Libraries in a Digital Age’ conference (which Martyn Everett kindly informed me about) and it proved to be quite an interesting day. It was organised by The Association of Independent Libraries and was held at the Royal Astronomical Society, Burlington House, London on 14th October 2010. It focused on the problems and opportunities facing libraries in the age of the Internet.

The session was opened by Gwyneth Price, from the Institute of Education London library on the topic of: ‘Social networking: just a lot of twittering?’ Gwyneth began by saying that the institute library held the most comprehensive collection on education in the UK, and probably the largest in Europe. She then referred to the LASSIE (Libraries and Social Software in Education) project which she has been involved with. She spoke about various types of social networking and their advantages and disadvantages. She made the point that blogs, for example, make things very live, whereas websites can be rather flat.

In particular, I was most surprised to discover that the Institute library has a rota for blogging; two people each week are expected to produce something for the blog. So far this has been through professionals volunteering, but even so, I am not quite sure that this is quite in the spirit of blogging! But anyway, it seems to work for them. Whilst Delicious is Gwyneth’s favourite shared resource – see e.g. Things that are useful can be collected and shared here and she jokingly said that her life goes into Delicious! Someone in the audience mentioned the issue of control; and the possible dilemmas in establishing boundaries between the personal and the institutional. Gwyneth thought that this was not such a problem at the Institute, because they are so innovative, although personally I remain somewhat sceptical on that score!

Meanwhile, Tim Coates (author and head of Waterstone’s bookshop in its early years) sought to defend public libraries in his talk. He also said that he thought there was too much management in libraries. Whilst Michael Popham, Head of the Oxford Digital Library spoke about the The Oxford-Google Book Digitization Partnership, which is something that I also refer to in my digitisation book. The Bodleian Library, founded in 1602, has a ‘Republic of Letters’ principle, he made clear, focusing around sharing resources, and it was this principle that led the Bodleian Library to couple up with Google for the Book Digitization Partnership. Google, on the other hand, wants to organise the world’s information, and to make it accessible universally, of course; and so this makes it a good partnership. Discussions between the Bodleian and Google started in 2003. The Bodleian and Google staff worked closely together, handling and evaluating the material. Google said they would commit for 20 years, which as Michael said, is a long time for them! There is now a massive amount of digitised content apparently; which opens up the collection to new readers and users, and provides new ways to add value to content and services. See:

Next, was John Thompson, Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, giving a talk on the publishing industry in the 21st century, which was very interesting and John was certainly in love with his subject. John has undertaken 500 interviews with people in the publishing industry, resulting in years of analysis. In his talk he gave us the benefit of some of his overall conclusions from all of this. He said that there have been three crucial changes in regard to the way that the publishing world works. Firstly, there was the growth of the retail chains; secondly, the rise of the literary agents and thirdly, the emergence of publishing corporations. Now, there are many large publishing corporations and many small publishing businesses, but few middle-sized publishing companies (Bloomsbury being one of them; courtesy of J.K. Rowling of course). He said that it is hard to survive as a medium-sized publisher today apparently. John spoke about ‘extreme publishing’, where there must be 10% growth, and where some books that are not selling are quickly removed (sometimes after only about 3 weeks). He thought there was too much ‘short-terminism’ in the publishing industry. Some authors reach middle-age finding that they haven’t ‘made it’, but on the other hand, he did not want to be over-negative. Some good stuff does get published; and some excellent writers and editors are able to shine through, despite it all, he said.

Finally, Martyn Everett spoke on the topic of ‘Copyright and the Knowledge Commons’, saying that libraries have an important role to play in the creation of knowledge. I also spoke to Martyn Everett at lunch and found out more about ‘The Association of Independent Libraries’, which is an organisation for subscription libraries. Martyn said that he does some voluntary work for a subscription library in Saffron Walden. I was also reminded of the good subscription library that there used to be in Norwich, which has now been turned into a restaurant, although still retains the name of ‘The Library’. When we were there we asked a member of staff where the original collection had gone; she did not know, but thought that it had probably gone to the University of East Anglia. Not much interest in the library there then! That saddened us. Still, at least Norwich has a lovely, spacious, comparatively new public library (after the old one sadly got burnt down a few years ago).

Whilst speaking to one of the delegates I also found out about the British Federation of Women Graduates, which was interesting. See:

In addition, we were given a tour of the Royal Astronomical Society Library and looked at some of the material, which was interesting. It is now largely a library for historical interest; rather than much live usage, as most members now obtain their material through the web (subscription-based ejournals etc), and many of the subscriptions for hard copy journals have been stopped.

Paul Catherall inserted quite an interesting piece on the Information for Social Change website recently, about ebooks and education. Here is the link:

In February 2010, Glenn Rikowski received a surprise email from one Baris Baysal from a Turkish publishing company in Istanbul, called Kalkedon Yayinlari. Baris said that this publishing company said that they had been reading some of Glenn’s articles on our ‘Flow of Ideas’ website, really liked the material, and wanted to translate some of these articles into Turkish and publish them as a book.

Kalkedon Yayinlari translated into Turkish and published Red Chalk: on schooling, capitalism and politics, by Mike Cole, Dave Hill and Peter McLaren and Glenn Rikowski, published originally in English by the Institute for Education Policy Studies, London, 2001. It was published in 2006; entitled Kizil Tebeşir’

Kalkedon Yayinlari also publish the Turkish edition of Monthly Review, an ‘independent socialist magazine’, which they have been doing since January 2006. When Baris wrote they were reaching the 22nd Turkish Monthly Review and were very proud of that, of course. Also, of course, Albert Einstein wrote an article for the very first issue of ‘Monthly Review’, back in 1949, in a piece entitled ‘Why Socialism?’

In addition, Baris made the point that it is relatively difficult to publish some Marxist books or journals, in countries like Turkey. He thought that there were a lot of reasons for this, including the “conjuncture and the characteristics of the readers”. Still, as Baris said, Kalkedon Yayinlari manage to overcome these obstacles, and they continue to publish Marxist books, especially the ones that include topics such as critical pedagogy and neoliberalism vs ecology. He was clearly proud of this, and rightly so.

Baris then listed the articles that they wanted to translate into Turkish and publish and were now seeking Glenn’s permission to do this. The articles were:

The Binding Ring, Ten Points on Marx, In Retro Glide, Fear of a Blank Planet Revisited, Educational Theory 1, Education and the Politics of Human, Distillation, Critical Pedagogy and the Constitution of Capitalist Society, Caught in the Storm of Capital, Against What We Are Worth, Marx and the Education of the Future.

Glenn replied to this, saying that, yes, certainly, he was very interested in having these articles of his published with Kalkedon Yahiniari.

He did also make the point, though, that the presentation of his work was very important to him. He said that he wants “ make sure that readers appreciate the nature, purpose and origins of what I write.” And that, for this reason, he proposed an additional chapter; namely Introduction: Education in a Crisis of Capital. Such an introduction would place the articles in some sort of context, and would also introduce each article, he said.

In addition, he said that he would eventually want to publish two volumes of his previous works: Vol.1 on the early works (1990-2003); and Vol.2 (2004 - present day) and that both of these volumes would be in English. The volume of articles that Kalkedon Yayinlari is proposing would correspond to Vol.2. Due to this factor, Glenn said that he would obviously need copyright. He noted that in the translation of Red Chalk that Kalkedon Yayiniari had the copyright. With this book, he would want copyright to be awarded (and clearly stated) to Glenn Rikowski.

He also wanted the book to have a proper Foreword, written by someone that knew his work. He also thought it would be useful to have an index, even if it is was only basic. Obviously, he would be looking to the publisher to do this, as he does not know Turkish. He said he would be interested in Baris’s views in regard to all of this and noted that Red Chalk did not have an index. He also asked about the contract and royalties.

Glenn said that he was also interested to know how and why they chose the particular articles that they did. On the whole, he said that he liked their choice of articles.

Glenn then listed the articles that they wanted to publish, with full bibliographical details, in chronological order. Here is the list:


Rikowski, G. (2004) Marx and the Education of the Future, Policy Futures in Education, Vol.2 Nos. 3 & 4, pp.565-577, online at:

Rikowski, G. (2005) Distillation: Education in Karl Marx's Social Universe, Lunchtime Seminar, School of Education, University of East London, Barking Campus, 14th February: Rikowski, G. (2006) Education and the Politics of Human Resistance, Information for Social Change, Issue No.23 (Summer):

Rikowski, G. (2006) Ten Points on Marx, Class and Education, a paper presented at Marxism and Education: Renewing Dialogues IX Seminar, University of London, Institute of Education, 25th October:,%20Class%20and%20Education

Rikowski, G. (2006) Caught in the Storm of Capital: Teacher Professionalism, Managerialism and Neoliberalism in Schools, a paper prepared for Education, Culture & Society (EDU3004) Students, School of Education, University of Northampton, 30th October:

Rikowski, G. (2006) In Retro Glide, Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, Vol.4 No.2 (November):

Rikowski, G. (2007) Critical Pedagogy and the Constitution of Capitalist Society, A paper prepared for the ‘Migrating University: From Goldsmiths to Gatwick’ Conference, Panel 2, ‘The Challenge of Critical Pedagogy’, Goldsmiths College, University of London, 14th September 2007, online at:

Rikowski, G. (2007) Marxist Educational Theory Unplugged, a paper prepared for the Fourth Historical Materialism Annual Conference, 9-11th November, School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London:

Rikowski, G. (2007) Fear of a Blank Planet Revisited, London, 12th November, online at 'Wavering on Ether':

Rikowski, G. (2008) The Binding Ring: Communitarianism for Schools on a Foundation of ‘British Values’? A paper prepared for the EDU3004 module, ‘Education, Culture & Society’, Education Studies, School of Education, University of Northampton, 24th February, at:

Rikowski, G. (2008) Against What We Are Worth, a paper prepared for the Post-Graduate Programme: Gender and New Educational and Employment Environment in the Information Age, ‘Summer Workshop on Gender’, at the University of the Aegean, Rhodes, Greece, 4th July, at:

However, as Glenn pointed out, publishing the articles in chronological order would not he particularly helpful for the reader. So, he proposed the following outline/structure for the book:

Proposed Structure


Introduction: Education in a Crisis of Capital


Distillation: Education in Karl Marx's Social Universe (2005)

Ten Points on Marx, Class and Education (2006)

In Retro Glide (2006)

Marxist Educational Theory Unplugged (2007)


Education and the Politics of Human Resistance (2006)

Caught in the Storm of Capital: Teacher Professionalism, Managerialism and Neoliberalism in Schools (2006)

Fear of a Blank Planet Revisited (2007)

The Binding Ring: Communitarianism for Schools on a Foundation of 'British Values'? (2008)

Against What We Are Worth (2008)


Marx and the Education of the Future (2004)

Critical Pedagogy and the Constitution of Capitalist Society (2007).

Glenn thought that this structure gave some coherence to the book, whilst also having an eye on chronology. He said that he was interested to know what the publishers thought of the proposed plan. He thought that the plan would also make for a good English edition. Incidentally, it was very important to Glenn that the articles were not published just as the publishers initially seemed to want, because that might have lead to further marginalisation of his work.

So, Glenn concluded by saying that he looked forward to hearing from Baris. And guess what – he never heard from either him or the publisher again. What does this say, one wonders? Whatever is all this silence about?

Still, it clarified Glenn’s thinking in this area; and he now has the ‘red print’, as it were, for English editions of these works (something that he had been thinking about anyway, but had not got round to putting pen to paper, as it were). But still, hopefully, you also take my point that Marxist Educators are not always exactly what one would hope or think! Perhaps, should just concentrate on the theory and less on the people! That’s the opinion that we are starting to form and is certainly one possible, sensible, solution!

Finally, after all that, I thought I should end on a positive note, so decided to talk about dancing, which is something that I have been very much enjoying over the last few months or so.

I have always loved dancing; all kinds of dance. But somehow I thought that the traditional dancing was not perhaps ‘hip’,’ trendy’ and ‘cool’ in some way or other; and/or I thought that there was not that much of it about any more. How wrong I have proved to be on both counts.

The dancing that I first really loved was Barn Dancing. I discovered this on Holiday Fellowship holidays that I went on every year with my mum and dad as a child and a teenager. HF has guest houses all over the country; in wonderful scenic places, such as Devon, Cornwall, Wales, the Lake District etc. As a child, I visited most of these beautiful and scenic places in Great Britain with my parents in this way. HF were walking holidays; with graded walks – A for the most difficult, which included a lot of mountain climbing, very long walks etc; B for the medium walk and C for the easiest walk. The walks were taken by ‘leaders’ who knew what they were doing and where they were going; compasses, maps, mountain boots, mountain lunches etc. abounded. And in the evening, there were various forms of entertainment, and for me, the best here, was the Barn Dancing. I loved it. ‘Strip the Willow’ – heaven, being swung round like that, skipping up and down; that was my favourite. Then there were dances like the ‘Mississippi Dip’. Those memories have always remained very vivid in my mind. Then, in my mid-teens at school, I did part of the Duke of Edinburgh award for a while, and for that, I did some ballroom dancing, including the waltz, quick-step and the cha-cha. But then at university, and since then, disco dancing took over; all that free expression; wonderful. And boy did I travel. Mind you, not for me the club dancing in a small square.

Anyway, earlier this year, I decided to really ‘go’ for the traditional dancing, once again, and to properly learn more of the steps this time. I looked around on websites, trying to decide what I wanted to do. In the end, I decided to focus on five main types of dances: ballroom, latin American, sequence, salsa and the Argentine tango.

It was and still is a wonderful journey; a journey of self-discovery, as much as anything else. I absolutely love it; dancing is really me! Why did I not do more of this before now, I ask myself? My life has been transformed. I have learnt just such a lot in the last few months; it has, and continues to be just so wonderful. And I have made some nice new friends. What could be better? And also as I go from one dance to another I am now starting so see some familiar faces.

At the traditional dances – both social and tea dances, there is ballroom, latin American and sequence dancing. I would now quite confidently get up and attempt any dance, as and when I am asked. That, for me, is a real achievement in itself. I have overcome the barrier. Whilst Salsa is lovely because it is lively and includes a wide age range. I actually go to free salsa dance classes in Newham; amazing eh! And I have gone to a few Argentine Tango classes at Conway Hall in Holborn. The Argentine Tango is just so elegant; also intimate. It is sensational. I am reminded of the film ‘Evita’ that Madonna starred in. Wow – wonderful. I love Madonna.

Kerry who teaches the free salsa classes is an amazing person; she is just so positive and lovely; knows everyones names; has a wonderful figure and posture - a real role model. Well, I find all these dance teachers real role models, to be honest. I went to some formal ballroom dances somewhat earlier in the year at Wanstead House, and Sylvie who takes these classes also has a wonderful pose and posture. Such elegance; such style!

Having returned to my early love, I will never, ever leave it again. Books and dancing - two real passions of my life. Not exercise classes though; I learnt that all over again as well. And interestingly Kerry, after having her baby, took a course for teaching exercise; she then got a job teaching exercises but when they discovered that she could teach dance, they wanted her to do that instead. And she loved that, and she wondered what on earth had possessed her to go into the exercise regime. Dancing can be a wonderful workout in itself as well anyway; but such a pleasurable, sensational one, as opposed to yucky exercise classes. Kerry adores dancing; all types of dancing – and so do I.

The rhythm; the music; the engagement; the intimacy; the beauty; the importance of thinking, self-expression and yet letting go (as a follower) all at the same time – breath-taking, sensational, brilliant. At its best, it can take you to another plane.

Kerry has also been talking about ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ – I must try to remember to watch that. Mind you, I don’t want to take a competitive attitude to it all; it is the sheer wonder, elegance, style, beauty and art that is where it is all at for me; that is what I love.

So, as you can see, I am hooked and will continue to keep on dancing, dancing, dancing.

Best wishes

P.S. Writing this newsletter has proved to be therapeutic for me, and has helped me to cope with these very difficult issues. It must also be remembered though, that it has been written in a very stressful phase of my life (also in the middle of a very difficult family situation right now). But writing the newsletter has also helped me to overcome some of my own hang-ups and inhibitions, and has helped to enable me to now move on. Once again, the wonder and beauty of writing!

1st November 2010

Friday, 8 October 2010

Ruth Rikowski's 42nd News Update

Well, the summer draws to a close. It was very jam-packed for us; hence the delay with this newsletter. Anyway, here are some of the highlights.

Well, the real highlight for me was that leading on from me giving a Key Note Lecture at Kingston University (at the invitation of Victoria Perselli) I suddenly and unexpectedly received in the post an offer of a lecturing appointment at Kingston, in the Education Department!

The teaching will be up to 8 hours a week, working as a Part-Time Lecturer, based in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and is effective from 1st October 2010. So, I am now very much looking forward to this of course, and to working more closely with Victoria.

Meanwhile, my keynote lecture was for the Education Doctorate programme. The programme includes four weekend sessions a year, with lectures, tutorials, presentations, workshops etc. The title of my talk, given on 19th September 2010, was: ‘I.T.: a form of liberation for females?’ The weekend also included a talk by Professor Keith Grieves on ‘Education and Globalisation’ (which has been one of Glenn Rikowski’s passionate interests of course). In fact, Keith and I briefly discussed Glenn’s Seattle book and his House of Lords paper.

I spoke for 75 minutes covering the topics of females in I.T. in general (and the gender inequalities that exist within it), social networking, the Feminist Library in London and digitisation. There were some 25 people there altogether; Education Doctorate students and academics (including an academic from Roehampton University, as Kingston and Roehampton run their Education Doctorate jointly).

I delivered an interactive lecture. There was a lot of lively interest, engagement and participation, which was great. The discussion included talking about Second Life; social networking in general (especially Facebook and Wikipedia); identity; the primary school sector, females and I.T; proactivity in general and ideas around the possible digitising of some of the Feminist Library in London material.

After the event Victoria and I went out to dinner and I stayed in a hotel, Brook Hotel, all courtesy of Kingston University, which was all very lovely. Upon my return Victoria emailed me saying that I had given the students a lot of food for thought and that my talk had generated much discussion over the whole weekend. So, that was all good to know.

Now, hopefully, in time we can raise some of these important topics still further in a meaningful way, which will hopefully result in some actual real and positive changes being made. One of my big motivations for writing has been the hope that it can all lead to some actual and real changes in society, particularly given the fact that today, the formal democratic processes and associated political activities can often seem to be just so inadequate (witness the current right-wing British government, for example; something that the electorate ended up with, despite having not given it a mandate).

Anyhow, leading on from being offered this lecturing appointment at Kingston I am now optimistic and hopeful that Victoria and I can raise some very important topics and make some difference. Victoria, by inviting me to give this Keynote, for example, inspired me to think about the possibility of digitising some of the Feminist Library in London material in order to assist with the preservation of the material. This, then, is a positive start.

Prior to me giving this Keynote Lecture, Toni Samek Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies and Research Fellow at the University of Alberta in Canada contacted me saying that she thought that some of the issues raised could hopefully be raised still further in various ways through videoing. Also that, in fact, she was using my filmed London South Bank University talk on globalisation and internationalisation (see with her students, and was finding it helpful.

Perhaps, then, further such filming will be possible in the future. This is not something that I have done much of up to date, it has to be said although Martha Spiess did come over from the States to film the book launch for my globalisation book, including my own talk at it (see Speech). This is all food for thought for the future anyway.

In regard to Victoria herself, Victoria Perselli is someone that Glenn Rikowski first connected with. With her Marxist/Feminist stance she has become someone that both Glenn and I have both very much liked and admired over the last few years. She seeks to raise many important issues, particularly within the field of Marxist education.

Glenn first connected with Victoria through his passion about re-invigorating Marxism and Education. He invited her to speak at one of the ‘Marxism and Education: Renewing Dialogues (MERD III) seminars that he organised at the Institute of Education, University of London: see MERD III was held on 22nd October 2003 and this particular MERD was also reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education, by Scott McLemee (over from America), on 5th December 2003. The article by McLemee was entitled ‘Scenes from the classroom struggle’. Other speakers at this particular MERD included Paula Allman, Carmel Borg, Helen Colley, David Guile, Peter Jones and Peter Mayo.

Victoria is now contributing a chapter to a book, for the Palgrave Macmillan series on ‘Marxism and Education’, which Glenn Rikowski and Tony Green obtained a contract for. This book, edited by Peter Jones, will build on MERD III, which was on the theme of ‘Pedagogy and Culture’ and will include contributions from many of the speakers at MERD III.

On a final note, interestingly we received a news item by email from Sebastien Budgen recently, about an article by the same Scott McLemee, this time with him writing about the C.L.R. James Library in Hackney. As McLemee points out C.L.R. James has been a real figure in society, writing a definitive history of the Haitian slave revolt in 1938, for example, providing (with his associates) an English translation of Karl Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, as well as being one of the founders of Marxist Humanism. Shockingly, McLemee reports that there is a proposal to rename the C.L.R. James Library to simply the Dalston Library and Archives. A petition against this move can be signed at:

Glenn also inserted information about this on his blog – see

Tony Green has also been circulating the information.

Just as I was on my way out to give this Keynote Lecture at Kingston I got an unexpected phone call from one Chibu Onyendi. Who was this, I thought? I was struggling. Then, gradually, as he explained, the ‘penny dropped’. He was a London South Bank postgraduate student that came to see me in my office about one year ago, requesting me to be his supervisor. He had seen my Globalisation, Information and Libraries book on display in the foyer at South Bank, read the abstract of it, and was convinced that I was the supervisor for him! His masters dissertation (for an MSc in Information Systems Management) was on the topic of ‘Globalisation and its potential effects on ICT in Nigeria’.

Having passed the taught part of the course, but not the dissertation, he then decided that he thought that I was the person that could guide him academically to a successful completion of his dissertation.

We had little time to play with, but managed to fit it in. Chibu kindly bought me lunch and we discussed his dissertation. I took it away to read and comment on and gave him some feedback (which I also forwarded to some other academics at LSBU).

Chibu is now in the process of re-registering. Let us hope that a successful outcome to it all can be found. All this is also, though, taking place within a period of restructuring, redundancies and early retirement at South Bank.

This leads me on nicely to refer to item 11 in my newsletter No 41. In this news item I highlight the fact that I had given a large number of guest lectures at London South Bank University and that:

“The understanding was that, through giving these guest lectures [to masters students] (which were on a variety of topics and proved to be both demanding and time-consuming, albeit also enjoyable), that I would then be integrated into the masters programme, but this never came about (at least, so far, to date it has not come about)!”
But to date, it has still not come to pass. Indeed, my situation at South Bank has deteriorated rather than improved! But let us not go into that right now.

As you presumably are aware, as well as university teaching I also commission books and articles. Recently, I secured a Chandos book contract for Dinesh Gupta on marketing (marketing being Dinesh’s specialist area). The proposed title for the book is:

A New Paradigm of Library and Information Services Marketing

Dinesh will be starting work on his book in November 2010, and of course I wish him all the very best with it.


There are 7 new items up on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog. These are:

‘Emily Christophers and Public Libraries’, ‘Some Ex-Colleagues in Newham Library Service’, ‘Inspiralled Café’ and ‘Urban Green Fair, Brockwell Park, Lambeth’. Also, three book reviews: ‘The Women in his Life’ by Barbara Taylor Bradford, ‘Thyme Out’ by Katie Fforde and ‘A Sweet Obscurity’ by Patrick Gale.

Emily Christophers used to be a student of Glenn’s and has been taking a lively interest in our writing, for example, whilst Victor Rikowski recited some poetry (or to be more precise lyrics to songs that he had written) at the Urban Green Fair at Brockwell Park, which proved to be a pretty successful event overall, I understand. I haven’t been reading as many novels lately as I usually tend to do (been just too busy!) but anyway, there are reviews of 3 novels that I have read recently on my blog.


The latest issue of Information for Social Change is now out (inserted on the web by Mikael Böök this time, rather than by Paul Catherall, the formal ISC webmaster).

Here are the details of the Contents and the Editorial:

Contents and Editorial
Google: An Ethical Corporate Pirate? (Mikael Böök)
Regarding the Google Interview (comments by Paul Catherall)
Articles, Part 1
Introduction to the Ethics and Ecology of Reading (Luca Ferrieri )
Talking About Information Ethics in Higher Education (Toni Samek)
Ethical Reflections on the 9/11 Controversy (Elizabeth Woodworth)
Data Absorptents, Data Emitters and Databases in Politics (Amelia Andersdotter)
On the Closing of the Scientific Library of the Finnish Meteorological Institute (Marke Hongisto)
Public Lending Right: General Considerations and Controversial Aspects (Marianna Malfatti)
Articles, Part 2
Introductory Note (Mikael Böök)
It Takes A Community to Create A Library (Kenneth Williment)
The US and the European Social Forum: Strategic Challenges for the WSF (Francine Mestrum)
Book Reviews
Elizabeth A. Buchanan and Kathrine Henderson: Case Studies in Library and Information Science Ethics (reviewed by Mikael Böök)


There are two new pieces up on our ‘Flow of Ideas’ website: both of which, originally, were essays written by two of Glenn Rikowski’s undergraduate students. The first is:

‘Why Study Education Studies?’ by Louise Jemmett (written in 2009)

Louise concludes by saying:

“...Education Studies provides the individual with skills and knowledge that will be relevant to life after education, helping them to become employed in a stable and financially rewarding career of their interest. It is because of this self-sufficiency and development it creates that I believe the individual should study Education Studies.

The second is:

‘What is a University: explaining the rise of universities in medieval Europe’ by Amy Leach (written in 2009)

And Amy concludes by saying that:

“...universities have risen in popularity and importance due to the overwhelming need to educate oneself further, whether at an undergraduate, postgraduate or research level. Universities are linked to the building or place in which they exist, but it is the people inside the university that are of most importance; the institution, and what they accomplish within it. The essential product of a university is “not a book but a man” (Christopherson, 1973, p.33).


An article about the work on critical space on university campuses that Glenn Rikowski’s good friend, Mike Neary is doing, was published in The Guardian, on 31st August 2010. The article ‘Education: buildings for thought’ is by Jonathan Glancey, and ‘investigates the quiet revolution in university design that is transforming the way campuses are organised and run’.

Mike, who is Dean of Teaching and Learning and Director of the Centre for Educational Research and Development at the University of Lincoln, says that university campuses are not ‘business parks’. With this in mind, over the last three years he has been leading a research project called Learning Landscapes in Higher Education. Working with architects and space-planners Mike Neary and his colleagues visited 12 universities in Scotland, England and Wales, conducting extensive interviews. The aim has been to “ re-think what universities are, what they are for and how they might build, occupy and use space intelligently – even critically...”

Mike Neary wants to improve the way in which campuses function. With this in mind he says that: “It’s been an academic exercise, and this is just what it needs to have been. Universities are academic. What we need to do is to think of the ways in which the process of research, of critical, academic thinking by students and teachers alike can shape the physical environment around them.”
He thinks that the best new university buildings are those where “students are given real responsibility for managing and supervising the spaces within which they learn...” And that “The Learning Grid at the University of Warwick is the most developed form of this new kind of space.” Yes, utilising space effectively for meaningful discussion and dialogue is clearly very important.

Then Mike said the following, which I thought was an absolute gem and just so, so, right:

“What’s wrong is the whole approach to treating universities as businesses, as an appendage to the economy, rather than places where ideas can be dangerous.”

Absolutely! That is definitely what universities should be about, as far as I am concerned: about developing new, exciting, dangerous, life-changing and life-enhancing theories and ideas.

We wish Mike all the very best with this very important and worthwhile research that he is doing.


Martyn Everett kindly informed me about this very interesting conference (that he is also speaking at). I have booked a place on it, as it should fit in well with my forthcoming book on digitisation. Here is the information about the conference that is being circulated:

The Association of Independent Libraries

Libraries in a Digital Age

A one-day conference on the
problems and opportunities facing libraries
in the age of the Internet
to be held at the
Royal Astronomical Society,
Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BQ
Thursday 14 October 2010
10.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.


10.30 Coffee and Welcome

10.45 Social networking: just a lot of twittering? Gwyneth Price

Gwyneth Price is Head of Collection Development Services at the Institute of Education (London) and is particularly interested in information literacy and the use of social networking software in libraries. Her presentation will focus on some examples of Web 2.0 technologies and how they impact on libraries in
the digital age.

11.30 A plan for the future of our public library service. Tim Coates

Tim Coates is an author and was head of Waterstone's bookshops in its early years. For the last decade he has become widely known for his pursuit of the improvement of the public library service. For his address to the conference on libraries in the digital age Tim has indicated his intention to use this opportunity to make a major statement on the state of libraries in England and what needs to be done for them to survive and fill a role for future generations.

12.15 The Oxford-Google Book Digitization Partnership. Michael Popham

Michael Popham is Head of the Oxford Digital Library, a core service of the Bodleian Libraries, serving the University of Oxford. Michael has been working in the fields of digitization and electronic text creation for more than two decades, and co-ordinates Oxford’s collaboration with Google Books. The Bodleian Library was one of the first five libraries to began collaboration with the Google Books Library Project (see This presentation will outline the Partnership’s efforts to digitize the Bodleian's entire holdings of out-of-copyright C19th material, and the lessons we have learned from this challenging endeavour.

13.00 Lunch

14.00 Merchants of Culture: the publishing industry in the 21st century.
Professor John B Thompson

John B. Thompson is Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. His publications include Books in the Digital Age (2005) and Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century (2010). The book publishing industry today is facing some of the greatest challenges it has known since Gutenberg. Caught in the pincer of an economic downturn and a digital revolution, everyone involved in the
book business - publishers, agents and booksellers - is being forced to rethink what they do. Based on ten years of in-depth research on the publishing industry, Thompson analyses some of the key changes that have transformed the industry in recent years and shows how publishers are seeking to rethink their practices in the face of an uncertain future.

14.45 Copyright and the Knowledge Commons. Martyn Everett

Martyn Everett, writer, historian, former librarian and Chairman of Saffron Walden Town Library Society. The internet and digitisation provide the opportunity to create a knowledge and information Commons in which libraries could play a key role. Yet the combination of new technology, commercialisation, and changes in the nature of ‘copyright’ threaten to constrict and regulate access to information as never before. Which side are you on?

15.30 Tour of the Royal Astronomical Society Library including a short talk about the Library’s digitisation programme by Librarian Peter Hingley.

16.30 Concluding remarks

Timings are approximate and the organisers reserve the right to change the programme without notification

Cost £40 per person including lunch.
Please make cheques payable to “The Association of Independent Libraries’
and send to:
The Association of Independent Libraries
c/o The Leeds Library
18 Commercial Street,
Leeds LS1 6AL
Tel: 0113-245-3071

The international ejournal Policy Futures in Education has a ‘Most Popular Articles’ chart. Glenn Rikowski’s article ‘Marx and the Education of the Future’ (published in Vol. 2, No, 3, 2004 of the journal) has been 1st or 2nd in the chart for some considerable time now, which is great. At the current time, it is 1st with 391 hits!

What has happened recently though is that Jia Liu’s (who likes to be known as ‘Jessica’) article ‘Digital Library and Digital Reference Service: integration and mutual complementarity’ (published in Vol. 6, No. 1, 2008) has shot up the chart to No. 4, with 288 hits. There have been news items from Jessica in the last couple of issues of my newsletter. Jessica is also one of the contributors to my forthcoming edited book Digitisation Perspectives.

The chart can be seen at:


Our middle son, Victor Rikowski, has been busy putting some more songs up on YouTube. This includes some other numbers from his band, Cold Hands & Quarter Moon and some solo singing by him, with him singing various country and western songs. Here are the links:

5 country and western covers sung and played by Victor:

‘Heartaches by the number’ (Harlan Howard)

‘I love you because’ (Ernest Tubb)

‘I want you out of my head and into my head’ (Loretta Lynn)

‘Rock me to Sleep’ (Sally Timms)

‘Slipping Around’ (Ernest Tubb)

3 ‘Cold Hands & Quarter Moon’ numbers:

‘It’s a Dead End’ – written by Victor Rikowski

‘The Letter’ (live performance) - written by Alex Lowther-Harris and Victor Rikowski

‘Mudane Maniacs’ (live performance) – written by Victor Vikowski

Finally, just as I was about to circulate this newsletter, Victor suddenly phoned us to say that ‘Cold Hands & Quarter Moon’ were about to go live on the local Bangor University student radio station – Storm FM. See:

Storm FM was set up in October 2001 by the then President of the Students’ Union, Niall Duffy. The station was also short-listed for the ‘Best Station Sound’ in the SR Association Student Radio Awards in November 2004 and these awards are supported by Radio 1.
So, as you can imagine, we were really excited about all of this! We quickly told a few friends and relations and got some recording material together. Then, we relaxed, listened and enjoyed (through Facebook)!

The programme was on Sunday 3rd October, from 3-5pm. The whole 2-hour programme was basically devoted to ‘Cold Hands & Quarter Moon’, with a couple of other musical interludes and a musical quiz (which CH&QM also participated in). CH&QM were first discovered by Storm FM on the ‘Bangor’s got talent’ contest.

The band played four numbers altogether: ‘Human Herbs’ (their very first number); ‘Slaves and Masters’; ‘It’s a Dead End’ (a new song and an exclusive for Storm FM) and ‘The Animal Song’.

The band were asked a wide variety of questions by James McAllister, such as what gigs/venues they had played at; their best and worst gigs; where else they would like to perform outside of Bangor (Chester seemed a good idea next, they thought, perhaps followed by Manchester). They also liked the idea of playing at Leeds Festival; and later perhaps at Reading Festival.

Other questions included: what was the first album that they had each bought; what was the first band they saw and who would they most like to perform with. Victor said that he would most like to perform with Jon Langford from the Mekons, and that indeed the Mekons had been a big influence on his song writing in general. Victor was also asked to explain the background behind the songs, the inspirations and what messages they were aiming to convey. He said that some of the songs he writes are quite political. ‘It’s a Dead End’ is a wake-up call to people, for example, to warn them not to live a life that leads to a dead-end and ‘The Animal Song’ says something about working-class struggle. They were also asked some amusing questions such as who would they most like to be with on a desert island.

All the members of the band are very talented, I think. As they said on the radio programme, Louie Ashton-Butler, for example, is a classically trained singer, and sings various operas for the university, such as Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute’ and Nick Frost plays violin in the university orchestra. The band members also gave Victor full credit for being the leader and the main inspiration behind ‘Cold Hands & Quarter Moon’, as well as for writing all the material of course. That was great, I thought, and raised my level of respect and admiration for the band members still higher. Victor says that they are all great people!

All being well, the programme will be going online in a few days time. And they are also planning to make a CD of it all, accepting donations for it at the moment, but in time (given all the hard work they have put into it), they might well decide to charge. Personally, I think they should, at some point. Also, in time, as they said on the radio, I am sure that they will start to play in various venues outside of Bangor, in places such as Chester, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Reading and London.

So, the band goes from strength to strength, on to better and better things and we wish them all the very best of luck with it all. We will have to see what we can do our end, about getting them to play in some London gigs. Perhaps, even around Christmas. Who knows! But, anyway, watch this space!
Best wishes

N.B. Many thanks to Martyn Everett for providing information for item 8.

8th October 2010