When it was time for the Apple Day celebration, a sudden torrent of rain flooded the road. At the orchard they were hurriedly laying straw on the muddy tracks that led to the day's car park. But the conditions did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the folk in waterproofs gathered round a man carrying an important-looking brown envelope. He was South Somerset district council's tree officer, and he told us how, on the old tithe maps, a big proportion of village land was shown as given over to orchards, a defining feature of the Somerset scene until the encroachment of acres of housing. He said he had brought a tree preservation order to guarantee the survival of this one in perpetuity (loud cheers). Careful work done to identify and record the names of more than 30 apple varieties, many rare and ancient, had strengthened its claim. The event was at Quiet Corner Farm, in Henstridge, which I had first visited in 2009. And the man who had researched the previously unidentified apples, an … [Read more...] about Apples of concord
Breckland district council
On clear days, Kevin Steele would peek through the cracked window of his six-by-eight foot solitary confinement cell on Rikers Island to get a glimpse of his Bronx neighbourhood and mentally escape. Steele was just 17 years old in June 2010 when he was brought to Rikers Island, arguably America’s most notorious prison and the nation’s largest penal colony. He had been arrested for his involvement in a fight and had no means to pay an assigned $85,000 bail. He spent three years at Rikers awaiting trial, 13 months of that in solitary confinement. “The conditions I faced on Rikers were really horrendous,” says Steele. “Looking out of that window was my way to survive.” Steele is today an activist with No New Jails NYC, a grassroots prison abolitionist group formed last year that has become a major player in the campaign to close Rikers. The group has mobilised New Yorkers – including influential Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez … [Read more...] about Rikers 2.0: inside the battle to build four new prisons in New York City
No one in Oli Khan’s family had ever lived in Scotland, or anywhere near it. But when, aged 23, Khan first set eyes on Linlithgow, a modest West Lothian town near Falkirk, he saw a prize greater than home. He saw opportunity. This chilly Scottish town – whose name means “lake in the damp hollow” – was the perfect place, Khan decided, to set up a curry house: it had a decent sized population, around 9,000 people, but no Indian restaurant. With help from his brother-in-law, who was in the restaurant trade in Birmingham, he opened his curry house in 1995 and named it Kismet – destiny. Khan’s father, who arrived in Britain from Bangladesh as a waiter in 1962, had taught him that there was good money to be made in selling curry to the British, if you could adapt it to their taste for predictable sauces on a sliding scale of heat (mild korma, medium Madras, fiery vindaloo). For thousands of Bangladeshi immigrants in the 60s and 70s, working in … [Read more...] about Who killed the great British curry house?