Saturday, 27 May 2017

Never mind the election, just deal with it

There was going to be a political entry but there's  not really been any politics although I feel the maxim war is just the continuation of politics by any other means is quite true as "The War" struck here Monday and regular politics got shut down in the aftermath although frankly I'd have no stomach for it in the circumstances, feeling that decision makes sense.
We're three weeks near enough to go to the Great Bore of 2017, there a few manifestos where the parties promise you everything have yet to be launched which is when the press are invited and someone picks a few ideas, sells them and takes questions before answering with another of their own such as UKip's who decided to break from the fray and launch theirs on Thursday. *Cough*
I'll no doubt return to my thoughts about the manifestos before June 8th but I'll talk more around some topical issues more in fitting for the Third Form school debating society.
Something since the Manchester atrocity people have been talking about is "people known to the authorities" who regardless of view are seen as threat because either what they exalt others to do or what they may do themselves such as incitement to riot or as we saw this week, to bomb civilians.
Apparently there are thousands on lists, said to be watched, sometimes because of things they made plain publicly, sometimes through reports by concerned citizens including their own families and yet with each tragedy we hear that phrase "Was known to...".
Just how much resource is into this? Seemingly only 7 out over 1,000 people are followed, less than 1 percent. Not that I'd cast any doubts at all about those who are trying to do it but is there enough people to actively monitor and let's be blunt spy on these people for our own protection?
The man responsible for Monday's action, the one President Trump called a "loser" came back into the UK from Libya seemingly unchallenged although he was "known to", that the French had concerns he was involved in something. 
Just how come he can just leave the airport when he left the UK to fight for so-called Radical Islamic Groups whose activities we know only too well?
There is a large part of me that would send anyone who went to fight for such an organization straight back and if you leave this country to join any such conflict in effect you'd void your British Citizenship. We don't need you and your warped notion of World-wide so-called Islamic state being fought here, slaughtering our children whose only crime was having fun.
I say so-called Islamic State cos it's a sick perversion of Islam to even link it as angered and upset Muslim leaders here have said over the last few days who do not deserve the suspicions cast on them by these sick individuals actions but no doubt sadly will. Whatever our religious differences our common humanity and belief in the rule of law override them as it should.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Nancy and the New Girl

As seasoned readers of this blog know I do read a fair bit for pleasure although with my learning and developmental disabilities, they need to use more the language and reading abilities nearer to that of a child around ten to twelve than even junior adult fiction having the right mix of a good story and something that stretches me just enough.

The Nancy and St.Brides series of school based stories  by Dorita Fairlie Bruce is one I've been slowly making through since being presented  with one book and buying the others in a series of contemporary  high quality reprints.
Her writing style and use of language are a good fit for some one like me as are some of the works of Enid Blyton and Jacqueline Wilson being more for intermediate junior readers and the topics just a bit more mature.
When I wrote the last entry about this series earlier in the year, we left Nancy at Maudsley Grammar after a disastrous term at St. Brides, working on the resolving the feud between themselves and Larkistone through the Guildery movement and its ethos of moral  education and personal responsibility and the inter-school competitions.
This new term a heiress, Barbara Stephen, arrives and Nancy is involved in settling her in although the expression "two's company, three's a crowd" comes to mind as it place strains on her previous friendship with with Desda.
Things would of been so much the better if Barbara had not been so encouraged to see her role as that heiress, home taught by a Governess who very much indulged that very self centred, revolving all around her way of thinking who just wanted everything to be as it was. This meant when she was spirited away from those people who only wanted to be her parents for who she was with the inheritance for the Stephen's who cared more for her development as a child, she could not even see she had so much to be grateful for even for going to a lesser school.
An example of that defiant streak is her refusal to consider changing how she has her hair fixed as it is long and very wavy in a more grown up way while at school it would of been  a bit shorter and in pigtails or in a bob even though the signs from the other girls and even staff could not of been plainer. Nancy takes a principal stand of not ganging up on her but carefully steering her toward the values of the other girls, seeing  past all that attitude she possesses, that there was a lot of potential good and she joins the Guildry where that hair creates problems for the unit inspection although to Nancy's surprise given the problems she had in Section 6  as "Maid of Merit" with unit discipline and even fighting, Barbara does emerge with some credit for her conduct.
That three's a crowd side rears its head when Desda decides to study for a Scholarship (what I understand to be a funded place based on ability) with an examination when Barbara decides to spite her in a battle for affections to apply too even though she really has no need to  given her financial security which indeed brings her attempted kidnapping and would crush Desda's ambitions which she was fully able to realize.
During this period Barbara's relationship with school, the village she moved to and her new parents come under strain as her mind battles with the emotions her past way of life and that she now is in and expected to adjust to. Indeed she even begs her Aunt to have her back and home schooled but the kidnapping puts that very much on hold while finding Nancy, who spent hours looking for her and her new friends tending to her injuries sustained from escaping the kidnapping,  she finds herself torn between her original aim of leaving them all and wanting to play for Maudsley in the inter school cricket match.
Barbara finds even though she prepared for the scholarship exam revising, she struggles recalling information and understanding what the question is really requiring, something a person undertaking it is taught, so she fails it. 
Passing an examination requires mastering your nerves in addition to learning examination skills rather more than her sense of pride.
Having recovered from her injuries, she plays in the Cricket competition excelling, leading her team to victory, gaining acceptance from not just the other girls in the team but the whole school and soon she decides she really wants that school life as just a everyday girl part of a group than that exalted on display older girl as doll-child with all her refinery on.
Indeed the end is quite moving that she decides to give away her fancy dresses for her plain girls wear and her uniform and lets Nancy cut her hair in a bob using a pudding bowl: she has given up the past, literally discarding it accepting being molded anew apologizing to Nancy for how she treated her and the others.
Reading the story really made an impression on me, seeing family fortunes aside some similarities between myself and Barbara and where we were lost in self serving bubble that did us no good. Equally we shared a stubborn streak, refusing to accept change, deliberately ignoring the messages our peers and 'grown ups' especially were giving us even though it was very much for our own good.
Accepting change, moving on is very much the sign of a more mature attitude to life making that transition toward greater independence and personal responsibility.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Great Bore tm pre-event analysis aka Local Elections

Last week saw the British local government elections held on Thursday covering local authorities and a number of so-called Elected Mayors of devolving regions such as that of the nearby West Midlands  as well as those for Merseyside and Greater Manchester.
Some of the importance around them is misplaced because people in local elections often vote as much, if not more for the person as the party and it is rare for national Party Political concerns to play a big part in voting habits although from the for the last ten years removed from the core position I have it did seem very much that this time that was very much in danger of drowning out  local issues and concerns with national parties less supporting candidates engaged in local affairs as campaigning locally for national politics.
To a large extent this time round, they could be seen as a dress rehearsal for June's General Election across the whole of the UK.
In looking at the results, it seems obvious there was a swing of around 8% toward the Tories and a bigger swing against Labour with smaller swings against the Liberal Democrats although they did win a number of new seats.
The United Kingdom Independence Party (aka UKip), lost all the seats it was defending  and only won one in East Lancashire.
That did not surprise me as the party has had a very turbulent year with two leaders who left, a big falling out with accusations of physical assault of an MEP with a few others and the failure to make any coherent policies outside of leaving the European Union which we had voted for  anyway. It needs to find who it is for and develop policies that meet those of its supporters.
To many they appear a 'spent force' but don't rule them out.
Labour's problems are not to be fair just the belief in eyes of many that its leader Jeremy Corbyn is weak, ineffective, more interested his own ideas than the well-being of the party, best characterized by the expression "couldn't fight their way through the skin of a rice pudding" but simply the party itself lacks what its core voters are looking for. The average Labour voter is interested in people who believe in fighting for this country's interests first, who see defence as important and wants them to support everyday workers working conditions through the law rather than some great socialist utopia come the revolution and feels strikes are a last resort not a tool of revolutionary change. They also support the Monarchy and expect a competent person to be a Shadow Home Secretary, not someone who had not a beeping clue about their own policing policies and its costs. 
As someone who supported them when I was younger it was an embarrassing shambles of a campaign.
Every time a commentator stopped to ask former supporters about the leader it was obvious he and his leadership were the issue. It will not end well.
The Liberal Democrats problems are two-fold: some won't forgive them for being in coalition in 2010 and especially policies like changes in University Tuition Fees policies and being seen as a pro EU party when many do not support that as good as a leader Tim Farron is on the whole. Do we want a referendum on the leaving deal with not leaving as an option? I don't think people however they voted at the time, do. 
The clear winners were Theresa May and the Tories with a simple message: It's all about leadership and stability in an unstable world.
People from all parts of the UK voted for them even in areas where previously people didn't and critically they emerged as 'the' pro-union' party for Scots who have grave concerns about the popular SNP and the so-called 'Indy2' referendum they want to run asap feeling Scotland alone cannot be made to work as an independent country and collectively we're better together.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Guilty Secrets - The Moody Blues on Mp3

It's sometimes said things are "guilty secrets" things in which the perceived wisdom around a topic holds them to be so embarrassing to admit to liking them that you'd never admit to in company even though you actual do.
What is called "Progressive Rock" is one as here you can talk about the guitar playing abilities of say Richie Blackmore of Deep Purple fame or Rick Wakeman of Yes's organ playing, no one would put in a good word for the Birmingham  based Moody Blues rich at times orchestrated scores and poetic readings in their recordings.
This was an album I remember clearly buying in March of 1980 with a slightly different cover which was the home of the single (although that was a different mono mix) and Tuesday Afternoon that I liked which was as well as my History teacher Mr Garner loved the Moody's often talking about them.  I did buy the 45 in December 1979 which had the non album track, Cities on it and I bought a few years back the Mp3 download of an expanded re-issue of it that just happens to contain that track.

This was one I borrowed numerous times from the Public Library the home of Ride My See-Saw and bought last year on Mp3 download. The track Om is almost hypnotic.
Seeing this was on offer last weekend on download I treated myself to the Mp3 download of this classic album part inspired by the Nasa spacewalk in 1969 and home to the single Watching and waiting, very much a mediation on space travel and childhood.
It was a favourite of that teacher and having listened to a few times, I can see why.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Minnie the Mix and Leo Baxendale

On Thursday it was announced that Leo Baxendale, cartoonist at the Beano comic creator of Minnie The Minnie had died.
The Beano was something of institution, a handed down traditional rite of Britishers and for some from British families overseas too for its mixture of comics whose situations were truly only in your imaginations and some such as The Bash Street Kids and my heroine Minnie The Minx based upon our times at school and at home capturing just what it was our lives more more like as school children especially in the pre-internet era.
Minnie was very much the tomboy, not one for endless playing with toys and dolls but at the centre of all physical activities being very much the equal of any boy when it came to her strength, resourcefulness and daring-do being the Tam-o shantered and skirted equivalent of Dennis the Menace and just like him, running rings around Mom and Dad.
Here's a more recent strip, showing just how she plays pranks on girls the equal of what any boy would do.
Of course as in real life her pranks and at times outright naughtiness would catch up with her especially in pre 1990's editions as the authority figures in her life would discipline her.
This was something we'd all empathize with in an era would we'd get the same in our own lives and this interconnection between the lives we led and its portrayal in books, comics and other media was very strong which is why the death of the creator of big chunk of childhood leisure time is so keenly missed.
R.I.P Leo.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Going to the polls

I had a schedule for publishing  that I like to keep very much with but as ever real life events just have this habit of forcing a change and this one is pretty big.
This if you were to believe the press and many of the politicians was a unexpected announcement, that Great Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, was to call for a snap Election June 8th on Tuesday at 11AM British time.
To me it's always been on the cards, something I expected sooner rather than later as much as I and evidently the PM herself would much sooner of had a period of stability prior to the negotiations on the way to leave the European Union.
There a number of reasons, one being to draw a line under the Cameron chummy governance  period she took over from making it very much hers in her own image, all ghosts duly dispatched, with an election held with the policies she supports uppermost on a manifesto.
There is as she said on Tuesday a mismatch between the mood of the people over leaving Europe and that of members of parliament voted on on a manifesto that pledged support to it. Moreover some conservatives saw it as their duty to fight it tooth and nail not just in the Commons but the Unelected lords.
Being able to say people voted her party in with the leading issue  getting on with leaving the E.U clearly signals even to the lords the government has the mandate to act and so their role is therefore to advise and revise not to obstruct it.
It also challenges the Scottish Parliaments assertion it alone has a mandate from that part of the UK and offers the opportunity to campaign against the idea of a second referendum on leave as the leading UK wide Unionist party which there seems rather less of a majority in Scotland for.
It also sends out a clear signal to the E.U itself that the country is behind leaving and the Government can't be bought off even if some compromises may be necessary in the short term.
To me this step simply stacks up and is what I would of taken if in a similar situation.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Talking warfare blues

"In the event of an air attack, the warning will sound and you are to make you way to the air raid shelter underground".
Well after last weeks attack on Syria by the United States  following the use of chemical weapons that killed  and injured children and babies, the sending of ships of the Korean Peninsular and last nights bombing of underground caves in Afghanistan strongly believed by us to be used by those masters of inhumanity, Isis,  you could say the world's very much on the edge.
It isn't that any one of these measures isn't justifiable - I was darn well angry as most of us were over what happened in Syria, that the North Korean leader is a threat to anyone who the Chinese ought to deal with and as far as I'm concerned Isis specialisms in gross inhumanity, approval of child sex abuse and destruction of world cultural artifacts would justify its removal from the planet - it's just the three at once that has me concerned.
This doesn't feel like the 70's and 80's where we lived with the so-called Cold War or even the Prague Spring, it's more reminiscent of the early 60's on the edge of real  warfare with China and Russia and the World-wide gorilla army of Isis rolling out destruction on a street near you as you enter McDonalds.
These times are scary, particularly for the young and we need to talk with them about what's on their minds.