Archive for November, 2011

Unbound, rebound

20 November 2011

I’m fussy about my notebooks. Small enough for a coat pocket, big enough for diagrams as well as notes, plain not lined. I also write in fountain pen quite often, so the paper has to be heavy enough for ink (not true of the ubiquitous moleskine).

So when I found myself short of something to write in while in Brecon recently, I was intrigued to come across a line of notebooks called Rebound Books. I’d not seen them elsewhere. They had covers of actual published books, and some pages from the actual book interleaved with new blank pages, made from surprisingly good quality reclaimed paper.

It turns out that they’re made by the Brecon branch of an international charity, L’Arche, which creates communities for people with learning disabilities, helping them by providing meaningful work. For the charity, the rebound books are a way of re-using books which had no secondhand resale value, and which would otherwise end up in landfill (I drafted this post in a Rebound notebook made from a Romanian language guide to a monastery). The project won first prize earlier this year at the Hay Festival’s Dragons’ Den event.

From a user’s perspective there’s something quite stimulating about turning a page and finding an illustration or a fragment of a story on it. The idea probably doesn’t scale that well, but I’d have thought that the charity will want to spread the idea from Brecon to their other communities. And maybe other social enterprises might want to franchise the idea.

You can have a look online. They also do mail order.

The pictures in this post were taken by Andrew Curry. It is published here under a Creative Commons licence: some rights reserved.



6 November 2011

My own chess career was modest: I made it as far as number 4 board in a moderately good school team. But that was enough to give me a respect for the game, and especially the way in which quite small advantages in ability were almost inevitably transformed into winning positions.

So I enjoyed the account by the journalist Stephen Moss of covering the launch of a chess initiative at the House of Commons, hosted by Rachel Reeves MP, now Shadow Treasury Secretary, who two decades ago was the British girls’ Under-14 champion. Moss challenged her to a game of blitz chess (10 minutes per player for all moves) and finding her “a little rusty” duly beats her.

But then the story takes a twist, in the shape of the former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov, who was also attending the launch:

He quickly sizes up the situation – that Reeves, his host for the day and the new standard-bearer of chess in schools – has been walloped, and suggests a rematch. He will, he says, intervene on her behalf just three times.

We play again. … As the game gets more interesting he can’t help lending Reeves a hand. “I’m just offering general advice,” he insists as her position improves while mine deteriorates. … “Now final, final, final shot,” says Kasparov as my position becomes dire. He has seen a way to win my queen, and Reeves eventually sees it too. Amid much laughter and applause I resign.

“I think that’s one of the best games I’ve ever played,” says Reeves with neat self-deprecation.

The image at the top comes from Chess Right, and is used with thanks.