Friday, February 26, 2010

Beach dog





















The picture is copyright www.susannastanford.com.

'Scribblings from the Surf' - Devon Life 3/10: Surfers Saving the World

The nineth in a series entitled 'Scribblings from the Surf' for Devon Life. To read the article see the text below or click to enlarge the pictures of the original article below that. To see the whole series, click here.

SURFERS SAVING THE WORLD

Barrister and writer Tim Kevan meets two surfers helping to save the world.

Many people might have the impression of the standard surfer as a flaky, spaced out Californian dude who doesn’t actually get much done other than stare out to sea and catch the odd wave. But that image couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to those who surf the English waters since you’ve got to have just a modicum of fortitude just to paddle out in freezing mid-Winter swell. Such strength of character also comes through in the activities that many surfers get up to out of the water as well. Two such surfers who are inspiring others are aid worker Tim Tanton and environmentalist Mikey Corker.

Tim Tanton: The Aid Worker
When the terrible tsunami hit on Boxing Day 2004 the world mourned. But for Braunton’s Tim Tanton who had been surfing in Sri Lanka since the mid-1990s the tragedy was closer to home as he had friends out there who lost family members, homes and businesses. He visited three times in the following year in an effort to help the local community next to one of the area’s famous surf spots of Arugam Bay. During the same year Tim and local paramedic and surfer Paul Martin conceived the idea of Paddle4Relief (www.paddle4relief.co.uk), a fundraising body which would provide a bridge between English surfers wanting to help in some way and the disaster’s victims.

The first event was a sponsored paddle in August 2005 and this has now become an annual event. They have also organised social events and the like with the same dual aims of both raising awareness and money and have had support from numerous people in the North Devon community but most specifically Mark Krazizky at Tiki and Glenn Harris at Surfed Out surf shops, Bridget Allsopp at the Saunton Break Café and Steve at The Thatch pub in Croyde. In the meantime, Tim gave up being a full-time psychiatric nurse and now spends much of his year living and working in Sri Lanka providing both physical labour himself as well as employing local people in the community on a number of projects.

The first major project was the building of a pre-school which was completed in 2006. This has been followed by a number of well projects after Tim realized that people’s wells were still contaminated and that people were having to travel long distances simply to get water. To date they have made good about 15-20 wells, including a couple of new ones. All of which is in addition to the day to day help with medicine, food, short term loans, fishing equipment and boats. They’ve also set up a surf club out there and have shipped over a number of surfboards donated by people in England. Back home, the Paddle4Relief Surf Club now provided merchandise such as hoodies and t-shirts as well as insurance for surfers through the British Surfing Association.

So far, they’ve raised over £20,000 and in addition to his own time, Tim has also used a lot of his own money. Oh, and that’s not forgetting that he’s been doing this in the Tamil Tiger heartlands which until recently was somewhat of a political hotspot to put it mildly. It’s been a long journey in a relatively small space of time and Tim has inspired people not only to help with his own cause but more widely as an example of what can be achieved for the good if you really want to make it happen.

Mikey Corker: The Environmentalist
Another person showing the difference that one person can make is environmentalist Mikey Corker. Brought up in Cape Town and a top class surfer he’s been living in North Devon for many years now. But it was perhaps the mountains, the open plains and the wide ocean in his homeland which provided Mikey’s initial inspiration to try and protect our planet’s natural heritage.

Since being in North Devon, Mikey has found two particular ways of making a difference. The first is through his job which is managing the Loose Fit surf shop (www.loose-fit.co.uk) in Braunton which was the world’s first carbon neutral surfing shop and has an emphasis throughout on being aware of the environment. This means that they specifically pick brands with an environmental ethos such as Patagonia and Finisterre. They have also been supporting the development of green surfboards in collaboration with Mark Roberts of Glass Tiger Surfboards. Mikey in particular has been working with him for approximately three years helping him to develop a product which is commercially viable and they are now selling a board which contains wood and a vegetable-based eco-resin. The wetsuits they sell come from West Wetsuits who also have a strong environmental lean, making suits from limestone-based neoprene rather than the usual petro-chemical base and with their lycra being made from plastic bottles and bamboo. Such work has led Loose Fit to winning the Surfer’s Path Green Wave Award two years in a row as well as the 2007 Green Apple Award.

All of which dovetails well with Mikey’s other role which is the North Devon representative for Surfers Against Sewage (www.sas.org.uk) an organisation which has long campaigned to clean up our coastline. Mikey ensured that SAS are the recipients of 1% of Loose-Fit’s turnover through an organisation called 1% for the Planet. In addition, he is now working to promoting their cause more widely in North Devon, most recently with a beach clean at Saunton Sands. There are a number of plans for 2010 including a Devon coastline paddle and in the Spring and grass roots projects with local educational bodies which can help raise awareness.

All in all, Tim and Mikey are an inspiration to us all and highlight the good work which can flow from catching a few waves and enjoying the pleasures which this planet offers up.

Tim Kevan is the author of the comic novel ‘BabyBarista and the Art of War’ (Bloomsbury) and the co-author of ‘Why Lawyers Should Surf’ (with Dr Michelle Tempest). www.timkevan.com.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dan Hannan MEP tells the story of the elephants...

Hat Tip to Conservative Home for this. "That which nobody owns, nobody will care for."

Computer-generated Gordon Brown the Fighter

Hat Tip to Dizzy Thinks for this video from Taiwanese news which from about 30 seconds onwards has a computer-generated Gordon the Fighter.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Recommendation: Andrew Cotton Surfer Blog

Great to see that North Devon local and internationally-renowned big wave surfer Andrew Cotton now has a blog which you can see here. Great pictures and writing and a fascinating insight into a world which makes most of us just look on in awe.

IMAX Everest

The Magic Numbers to play at Goldcoast Oceanfest

This year's headline act at North Devon's Goldcoast Oceanfest have just been confirmed as The Magic Numbers. The psychedelic indie band from London, looking to release their third album in the Spring, will be present on mid-Summer's weekend to share their infectious melodic harmonies. Get your tickets here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Review of BabyBarista in Buzz Magazine

Nice review of BabyBarista and the Art of War in South Wales's cultural Buzz Magazine written by Tom Anderson, author of Grey Skies, Green Waves. It says:
"Written by a former barrister who quit the bar to become a surfer and writer, this is a scandalous story of a trainee at the Bar. From the first page it’s very satisfying to read, knocked together in short, witty episodes. A novel-version of the controversial blog by the same name, BabyBarista is full of naughty storylines and rips the law trade to pieces. ‘BabyB’ narrates his time as a pupil in one of London’s most reputed chambers. As the tale unfolds, his need to secure a job and pay off his mother’s debts means he throws himself in to the dark arts of the courtroom with alarming gusto. Mentored by a range of characters from the chambers in which it’s set, a battle take place for his soul. On one side is the warm and scrupulous ‘OldRuin’, a beacon among an endless roster of shysters and blood-lusting misers – the biggest of which are the arch-villains known as ‘TheBoss’ and ‘TopFirst’. Whatever you think of the law trade, it’s undeniably intriguing to read such a damning indictment of the class-riddled world of the Bar, and there’s even a warm-hearted morality-tale aspect to the story as well. Hilarious, addictive and fulfilling. Well worth a look."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ginger and Pickles - Beatrix Potter's Guide to the Credit Crunch

Margaret Thatcher apparently said that Beatrix Potter's Ginger and Pickles was the only business book worth reading. It tells the story of the rise and fall of a cat and a dog who run a small shop offering unlimited credit. Inevitably they go bust and Tabitha Twitchett (who never offers credit) is able to raise her prices. That is until eventually Mr. John Dormouse and his daughter began to sell peppermints and candles and Sally Henny Penny opens a shop for which "she has laid in a remarkable assortment of bargains".

Hat tip to Richard Collins at the BBC.

BabyBarista recommended by Dr Michelle Tempest at The Psychiatrist Blog

Thanks to Dr Michelle Tempest for recommending BabyBarista and the Art of War on her excellent Psychiatrist Blog. Michelle was the editor od the ground-breaking book The Future of the NHS and is also the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Conservative Party in the North West Durham constituency at the General Election. You can follow her progress here. She writes about Babybarista:

"If you are looking for a great read then look no further than confessions of a pupil barrister. It can be bought here. If you thought that legal eagles spent their time studying behind antique desks, think again! This book lifts the lid on legal chambers and offers readers a unique insight into the dirty tricks barristers use to battle each other, in and out of court. It left me asking the question, do these characters think they are above the law?"

BabyBarista covered at TotallyLegal.com

There's an article at TotallyLegal.com about the making of BabyBarista and the Art of War which you can read here or below.

Writing for Harry Potter’s Publisher

Tim Kevan is barrister-turned-novelist and creator of the infamous BabyBarista. Totallylegal editor Natalie Harris asks him about how he came to write a novel for Harry Potter’s publisher, Bloomsbury.

Back in early 2007 I had been practising as a barrister at 1 Temple Gardens for some nine years and was enjoying the life of a common law practitioner based in London. But I’d always dreamt of living by the sea and the surf and maybe even writing a novel. I just couldn’t quite see how it could be done. At that time I’d just finished co-writing a motivational book entitled ‘Why Lawyers Should Surf’ with Dr Michelle Tempest, a book which encourages people to look for inspiration outside of law and used surfing and the power of the ocean as metaphors for living the day to day. Next I wanted to sit down and write a legal thriller. But instead what popped out was a legal comedy about a fictional young barrister doing pupillage. I called him BabyBarista which was a play on words based on his first impression being that his coffee-making skills were probably as important to that year as any forensic legal abilities he may have. It’s a strange thing to say but I discovered that this bold, irreverent and mischievous voice along with a collection of colourful characters had simply jumped into my head and the words started pouring onto the page.

I wrote it as a
blog and was hopeful it might raise a few smiles but in my wildest dreams I hadn’t imagined quite the extraordinary set of circumstances which then unfolded. First The Lawyer Magazine commented “If this is a fictional account it is genius”. I then emailed a few publishers and started getting interest as well as taking on a literary agent who had approached me direct. In the meantime, I was contacted by Alex Spence of The Times and he very kindly offered to host the blog and finally, I got a book deal with Bloomsbury Publishing of Harry Potter fame - all within the space of less than three months.

Since that hectic start, it’s been a long haul. I’ve finally taken a break from the Bar and moved to North Devon where not only have I been able to go surfing a little more frequently but I also finished the first book in the BabyBarista series as well as continuing to write the blog. The book finally came out last August and does seem to have been well-received with broadcaster Jeremy Vine describing it as “a wonderful, racing read - well-drawn, smartly plotted and laugh out loud” and The Times Law Section calling it as “a gallop of a read” and their Books Section mentioning its “relentlessly racy, rumbustiously Rumpolean humour”.

The book is called BabyBarista and the Art of War and centres around BabyB’s first year in chambers where he is fighting his fellow pupils for the coveted prize of a permanent tenancy. It’s a fictional caricature of life at the Bar and includes characters that probably exist in most workplaces such as UpTights, OldRuin, BusyBody, Worrier and even JudgeJewellery and her penchant for stealing cheap jewellery. Alongside the pupillage race is an altogether different battle with BabyB’s corrupt pupilmaster TheBoss whose dishonest fiddling of chambers’ records to avoid a negligence action all starts to unravel and threatens to embroil BabyB’s entire career.

With the first book finished, I’m continuing to write the blog as well as working on book two in the series. Ultimately I intend to return to the Bar part-time and based in Devon but hopefully through my chambers in London. In the meantime, I continue to enjoy life down here by the sea.

Tim Kevan is the author of ‘BabyBarista and The Art of War’ published by Bloomsbury and available on
amazon. For more information visit The Barrister Blog.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

BabyB reviewed mid-Atlantic!

Award for the most extreme review of BabyBarista and the Art of War goes to adventurer Dr Rob Casserley, five times Everest summiteer and currently on a mission to become the first man to row the Atlantic followed by climbing Everest once more. So, mid-Atlantic, being battered by winds driving him South towards Venezuela, he just sent out the following two tweets (click on left to enlarge): "On brighter note, just finished BabyBarista,a witty hard 2 put down book about the shenanigans going on in a firm of barristers...By some bloke Tim Kevan. Makes me glad 2 b of the fairer profession! Highly recommend it!" To follow Rob's progress, click here.

Friday, February 5, 2010

BabyBarista arrives Down Under

I'm really delighted that BabyBarista and the Art of War has just received a very nice review in the New South Wales Bar Association's Bar News (at page 109) which you can also read by clicking on the picture of the left or reading below. I'm even more pleased by the fact that the review is by Richard Beasley who is not only a practising barrister (and a qualified solicitor) but also the author of one of my very favourite legal novels ever Hell Has Harbour Views which is both extremely funny and also a fantastic page turner of a read which I couldn't recommend more highly. It is available direct from Australian bookshops such as SeekBooks.com.au and also on amazon.co.uk. The review reads as follows.

BabyBarista and The Art of War

There are no heroes here, BabyB. We’re all just shadows. Dim reflections of the real world. Sitting around packaging it all into neat and tidy little issues... I can’t stand it BabyB. The law. The whole thing. It sucks the poetry from our souls. Boils it all down to cynical platitudes. You know, if it wasn’t for the money ....

So laments UpTights, a senior barrister in the fictitious London chambers which is the stage for the action in Tim Kevan’s very funny novel, BabyBarista and the Art of War.

It’s no wonder UpTights is depressed. Her Head of Chambers is pompous and mediocre in equal measure. The most senior junior specialises in professional negligence of his own making, dishonesty and adultery. Another barrister is sleeping with a clerk. The most senior woman is addicted to Botox and to flirting with much younger men when drunk. Another is a Vamp, who drops her wig for every guy in town. Many of the others fret that they will turn out like the older ones when they grow up, while others fear that they are now entrenched in that ugly terrain of not being good enough for top work, but too senior for the bread-and-butter. The readers are all intensely jealous of one another, and backstab at every opportunity. As for the rest of chambers, they are in the main all airs and graces, but no manners.

Tim Kevan has been a barrister for over 10 years, and despite the characters in his book, remarkably none of those was spent on Xth Floor Wentworth-Selborne. Having joined 1 Temple Chambers in London in 1996, and having written a number of legal texts dealing with consumer credit, personal injury and sports law, Kevan first ventured into the literary book world in 2007 with the non-fiction work Why Lawyers Should Surf. Written with Dr Michelle Tempest , it’s a kind of self-help book for lawyers who want to both improve their legal skills and their lives. For a number of years Kevan has also written a legal blog for The Times, and from this BabyBarista and the Art of War has emerged.

The plot revolves around the contest between four baby barristers and their year-long quest for the one available room in chambers at the end of their pupillage. employing tactics from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War – ‘kill or be killed; the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself’, etc – BabyBarista is determined to end up with the room no matter what Faustian pact he has to make. For 12 month he puts the better parts of his soul aside, summons the darker parts (and a great deal of creative energy), and gets to work on his competition.

Written in the style of a diary, the novel never loses pace, nor does BabyB run out of inventive means of undermining, tricking, demoralising and defeating his enemy. Phone taps, secret video, identity fraud and Facebook are all part of his arsenal as one by one he sets upon his fellow pupils TopFirst, BusyBody and The Worrier. BabyB may be a novice advocate, but he is a master manipulator.

There a times during his first year at the bar when BabyB meditates on whether the struggle is worthwhile. His pupilmaster, called TheBoss, who could equally be called Mr Spineless-Bastard esq., sums up all he has to teach BabyB with this:

The law’s not about ivory towers or wigs and gowns. It’s about one thing and that’s costs. Not justice. Not rights. Not defending the innocent or prosecuting the guilty. It’s cold, hard, stinking cash. Your time, literally, is money. You sign away your life, but for a price of which even Faust himself would be proud.

Only those who oppose a Bill of Rights could sum up the profession so succinctly.

Telling a story through the mechanism of daily diary entries, and the use of nicknames as distinct from real names (oldRuin, FanciesHimself, the Vamp, JudgeJewellery, oldSmoothie to mention a few), carries with it the risk that the characters will come across as one dimensional and stereotypes. With great comic timing, and with as much sympathy as contempt for the actors in his novel, Kevan avoids this, and what could have been merely a series of anecdotes becomes a well rounded and sharply observed comedy about a profession the author knows very well.

Whether you think this book is merely an amusing parody of the legal profession, or a deliciously accurate portrait, all people who enjoy well-written and funny books, and even a large number of barristers, will enjoy BabyBarista and The Art of War. As for those members of the profession that read this book and don’t enjoy it, I’m sure Tim Kevan has a very apt nickname.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Book recommendation: 'Operation Mincemeat' by Ben Macintyre

I can't recommend this book highly enough having only started it in the last few days. I have to admit that I was already a fan of the original account of this incredible story The Man Who Never Was by Ewan Montagu. But Operation Mincemeat takes it to another level. Wonderfully written in a way that not only keeps you turning the pages as fast as any thriller but also with an eye for humorous detail and the absurdities which life can throw up. From the 'haversack ruse' to Ian Fleming's list of ways of winning the war, there is so much in there you really couldn't make it up. I mean, how on earth did the military top brass honestly get away with a policy of only having pretty girls "on the basis that they would be less likely to spill the beans to their boyfriends"! Apparently they looked for men with "corkscrew" (read "creative") minds to dream up some of the more ambitious intelligence plans. Which led a barrister with a vivid imagination to organise one of the most imaginative and also significant operations of the Second World War. Buy the book now!

Monday, February 1, 2010

'OneDay in Woolacombe' by Richard Gregory

Sponsored guest post: Cycling accident victims to benefit from new accident claim service

A new legal service, My Cycling Claims, has been launched recently by a North-West based law firm to cater specifically for people involved in accidents whilst they were using their bicycles. From the immediate aftermath of the cycling accident right through the recovery process, the new service will focus on the particular needs of injured cyclists and aims to get them the full cycling accident claim they deserve and get them back riding as soon as possible.

According to figures from RoSPA, there are over 300 reported accidents involving cyclists on roads in the UK each week. This includes on average 2 fatal cycling accidents and around 40 serious injuries every week.

But even these shocking figures might tell the whole story, as RoSPA estimates that reported accidents only account for between 10 and 30 percent of all serious accidents involving cyclists. This means the actual number of cycling accidents per year could be as high as 150,000. Around a quarter of those involved in cycling accidents are children, especially those in the 11-17 age range.

Cyclists have much less protection in the event of a road accident compared to other road users. Motorists benefit from protective measures in the vehicle they are driving such as side impact bars and crumple zones. Even motorcyclists have the benefit of hard-wearing leathers or specialist clothing and more protective helmets that cover the whole of the head; around half of the cyclists who attend hospital after being injured in a road traffic accident have suffered head injuries.

Author: Neil Worrall