Saturday, 17 June 2017

The winner is...Nobody

In what is shaping up to be an eventful week for other more tragic reasons, I'm getting around to typing out my thoughts on the General Bore of 2017 and  where that leaves us which isn't exactly being helped by the time taken by those directly involved to actually forge agreements to settle it.
There are as I think I mentioned last time 650 divisions known as constituencies and for any one party to gain a majority in the House of Commons you need 326 or more and the problem with the outcome is...no one party has it!
Take Theresa May's Conservative and Unionist Party for instance and you'll see they got just 318 which make them the largest single party and yet they cannot do it by themselves.
Then there is Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party which did better in a late surge with 262 votes and the Liberal Democrats with 12 which in both parties is an improvement on the 2015 result.
Scotland's Scottish standing only Scottish National Party won 35 out of 57 Scottish constituencies which was a 21 seat drop on 2015 and Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party got 10
Let's quickly do some math here as Labour saying they were ready to form an alternative 'progressive' government and add 262 labour votes to 12 liberal democrats we have 274 seats plus the SNP's 35 we get 309 plus 4 Plaid Cymru votes equals...313.
Thus put plainly the math doesn't stack up for that argument.
To me in truth nobody won this election.
The two main Great Britain wide parties did not carry the trust needed by the electorate even if Ruth Davison run a really successful campaign for the Scottish Conservatives and Jeremy Corbyn's Labour  team did connect to a lot of young voters who amongst a good number of people are fed up with 'austerity', funding crisis in health, social care, education, declining 'working class' pay relative to expenditure and issues of both housing supply and unaffordable mortgages and rents.
In Scotland it was clear many Scottish voters were more concerned about similar issues such as educational standards that they wanted their representatives to be more engaged with than the second referendum on independence the SNP were pushing since last Junes Brexit result (Indyref2).
Brexit is in a way few of us on the leave side anticipated at the core of this problem with Labour and Conservative remainers voting for remain candidates such as Warwick and mainly labour leave people voting conservative as in Walsall North and Stoke on Trent South.
It was also an election where rather that that referendum we voted despite concerns, I know I voted for who I did with concerns over social welfare issues and others voted the way they did even if financial literacy and clear signs of exactly where the money was to be found were lacking.
And that Brexit clock as we were reminded over the weekend last is ticking.
Other consequences included the standing down of Ukip leader Paul Nuttall and Wednesday decision for Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats who cited the constant attention on his own personal religious beliefs by some lesbian and gay activists even though his voting record clearly supported their rights. I have some sympathy for this as some liberals seem to be...ill-liberal both in terms of denying the space for opposing views and even accepting of while disagreeing personally, the need to allow others the space to be themselves and so backing legislation.
At the moment there is an attempt to put together an agreement by the Conservatives and the DUP so a Queen's speech (a summary of the parliamentary program put forward by Her Majesties Government) can be passed and major legislation not least relating to Brexit can be passed without a formal coalition which we had for the 2010-15 Parliament.
This is possible but has its own risks not least in resolving the deadlock at the Northern Irish Assembly a part of the devolution outside of England enacted from 1995 onward in our system of Government between the DUP and   Sinn Féin, the Nationalist, Republican party whose links to terrorism at the highest levels are hotly contested.
Neither side trust each other much and in trying to resolve this, any UK Government as former prime minister Major said on Monday risks  being seen more as a Unionist stitch up than an impartial advisor with thepossibility if it fails of Northern Ireland being run directly from London, something that would have a major impact on cross-community and Irish and UK Government relations.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Simple Minds Glittering Prize revisited

While the political business is being worked through which I'll post about next week, I thought I'd post about an album I recently rebought.

Simple Mind's Glittering Prize 81/92 album is a compilation originally released in 1992 that only covers the commercially successful period from 1981's Love Song to 1991's Real Life album.
I did buy this on tape but the tape became worn plus I needed to make a copy for my portable digital music players.
While other more complete double compilations exist, the strength of this is that it hasn't been made artificially louder than it needs to be which is common problem on newer compilations and as the 1985 45 Don't You (Forget About Me) which was featured in The Breakfast Club movie and originally slated for Billy Idol to sing is on her in really good quality.
This is as well as the track was not issued on 1985's Once Upon a Time album sandwiched between such hits as Promised You a Miracle, Up On the Catwalk, Alive and Kicking and Belfast Child.

Digital copying 
I use dbPoweramp a paid for program from Illustrate as it is very effective, has a wide variety of databases to add song titles etc and is easy to correct any odd mistakes that may creep in before making your digital file.
File formats:
If you have a device that will play lossless files, I'd recommend using Flac as it will give you full cd quality with nothing removed.
If what you are using that doesn't do or isn't intended for super critical listening on high quality headphones, using so-called lossy encoder will make a small file that will sound 'good enough'.
I have gone back and forth between the Mp3 and Aac lossy file formats and feel on balance a Mp3 file made at 320 kbps using the LAME encoder is the best option providing high quality and universal compatibility. 
I find the Aac files I've created myself either in iTunes which isn't a good 'ripper' by the way or using the fdkaac Aac encoder in dbPoweramp tend to squash the soundstage leaving it flatter and less involving compared to the same disc ripped in the LAME mp3 encoder at 320. Louder passages tend to sound bleached for want of a better expression.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Nancy And The New Girl

This week while other things will be happening, I thought I'd post about a book I read recently.

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.
We last 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 so when she was spirited away from people who only wanted to be her parents for who she was for the Stephen's, 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 Guildery 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 spit her in a battle for affections to apply too even though she really has no need to  given her financial security which indeed brings an attempted kidnapping and would crush Desda's ambitions.
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 as finding Nancy in 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 and wanting to play for Maudsley in the inter school cricket match.
She finds even though she prepared for the scholarship exam revising, she struggles recalling information and understanding what the question is really requiring so she fails it. Pride isn't enough to get you through that.
Having recovered from her injuries, she plays 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.
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.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

The E-lect-shuns

It's seven days to go as I start to work on this and like most post devolution politics it's messy because the parties unique to the devolved parts of the United Kingdom include all the parties that stand in Northern Ireland, Plaid Cymru ("The Party of Wales"), the Scottish National Party (aka S.N.P.) and have no representatives outside that part, country, region whatever the constitutional dogs dinner has left calling the bits of the UK leaving only three and three-quarters of the parties being in proper sense Nationally organized, having national statements of policies (Manifesto's) and Candidates standing nearly all the Parliamentary divisions called Constituencies. 
I say three and three-quarters because the Conservative (Tory) Party don't organize and stand in Northern Ireland although they are for the Union and have links to the two Unionist parties there.
The biggest single issue of the moment is leaving the European Union on which my thoughts can be found in other entries but I'll try to be fair.
The party most pro Europe is the Centre Left (and not what I'd recognize as Liberal) Democrats who came about from a small proportion of ex Labour people and nearly all the former Liberals and the difference between the two sides are still there.
The party was 100% behind remaining in the EU because it believes this has brought peace, economic growth and liberty to Europe and that much of the UK's trade is linked to it.
In its manifesto it has said it doesn't wish the UK to leave the Single Market for goods and services including people and the European Court of Justice.
It goes on step further and says whatever is decided at talks with the EU should go to separate referendum that include a "Remain in the EU" voting option.
The Further to the left Socialist party, The Labour party kind of agree much of that apart from the referendum but keep altering the emphasis because Labour supporters don't generally favour EU membership   and think they can talk the EU even in the last hours into some reforms.
The Conservatives and the United Kingdom Independence Party are for leaving the EU although some local branches and candidates of the former are not and generally favour what could be called a clean break.
This is because they feel the terms of keeping the Single Market which include not being able to set year on year migration targets, consider skills based applications will not be agreed to because the EU sees them as non-negotiable and all that has been able to been agreed are very short-term temporary restrictions for 'new' member states in Eastern Europe or the offer of a use one only every four year temporary limits.
Leaving the EU-"Brexit"- is like marmite: it splits people down the middle and personally is a huge issue with me and Midlands voters. One day I'll write the book "Staffordshire and how we broke the Post war settlement", lol.
Another increasingly important issue is care for the elderly in later life such as the provision of carers in peoples homes and how that especially it is they need to move into a care home where this is provided (we hope!) is to be met as that post war to mid sixties "Baby Boom" is entering the autumn of their lives in large numbers and will run on for at least fifteen or so years at a similar rate.
Presently some find it is necessary to sell off their home (if they own one) to part pay for it whereas those who are not and don't have savings have theirs paid by the state. That amount many care home providers maintain is insufficient to provide the quality of care not just expected but legally required and some scandals around this have emerged.
To pay for more of this, the Conservatives had proposed a increase in the amount you didn't need to pay before claiming back anything over £100,000 from the sale to pay for this on a deferred basis.
One problems with this is a good number of people buy a property expecting to pass it or its value on in death to immediate family (their children) and in a good number of places any property exceeds this value, not merely the better offs.
The resulting who-haa with it being called a "dementia tax" has left this quietly dropped to be re-tuned later.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats favour more state money aka taxes to pay for this but the problem with taxation is the tax yield from substantial increases is often lower and often leads to unintended consequences such as "brain drains" as the brightest and most well paid leave the UK.
My own view is you need to look at tackling tax evasion by multinational companies ("Hi Alexia, Google me Googles tax returns!" and growing the cake through greater productivity and furthering international trade.
Policing and security is an issue and while the Conservatives have talked about putting more on the ground, it also is the case the reductions in funding in their budgets since Twenty-ten had decimated them which in my personal opinion  was very short-sighted as you tend to get more significantly crime in a recession and with last weeks's awful event still in my mind here, it is obvious we are facing severe threats not just from overseas but from home grown terrorists who are not going to reduce their activities all because we're one an 'austerity' drive. 
The other parties are talking about it but as with much in this campaign we have seen little real information on exactly it has been costed and that as we get into the last days of campaigning is the one thing that really annoys me: The lack of forethought in how the policies are going to be funded together with the detail.





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.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

The UK and the EU: Article 50 signed

First off thanks for the increased viewing of posts recently on this blog which is appreciated as with the changing nature of my life it's not always easy to slot in a post here although perhaps inspiration is more at hand in national life.
Wednesday was a very important in the history of our Country here in Great Britain because it was the day a letter was delivered by hand to the President of the European Commission both signalling our intention to leave it and the European Union as well setting out our intentions and expectations regarding negotiation around leaving terms and expectations.
These cover things such as trading arrangements, the rights of each others citizens in the UK and the EU, any monies owed upon leaving or rebates and security which in view of last Wednesdays events are extremely important.
That Associated Press picture  is our Prime Minister signing it at No.10 Downing Street where I did spend and afternoon and evening at by request of a serving Prime Minister so is something I do recognize!
However the negotiations go, we are past the point of the question of leave or stay raised at and shortly after last June's referendum  however some might like to believe otherwise because we are actually leaving.
This does not mean we've ceased to be a member subject to its rules and laws because until a date is agreed for leaving and following any 'implementation period' where old arrangements expire, new ones come into affect and any 'ad hoc' temporary measures introduced as needed, we are still legally in membership.
The 'Great Repeal Bill' so-called is just a rolling up of exclusively EU law formally into British law to avoid a legal black hole whereupon afterwards Parliament (both Houses of) can alter, revise, revoke or replace as a Sovereign body as it can any other Law (and is in part its purpose) but not before leaving.

Friday, 24 March 2017

On the attacks on London

I suppose I might as well start by saying this was not a post I was expecting to make today by both topic and also by virtue of not being in the twice monthly publishing cycle of this blog.
It also is is by grim coincidence almost exactly a year on from one of the pre-paused posts on here where I talked about the Brussels terrorist attacks and the impact on us all.
On Tuesday March 22 at approximately 14:40 hours GMT, two people drove a 4x4 vehicle down Westminster Bridge, London into the sidewalk killing three people and injuries scores of others, some very seriously. 
Having realized they couldn't continue, they crashed into a railing near Parliament, killing one police officer before one dashed toward Parliament itself, stabbing to death a security person before being shot dead by police
That takes us to five persons currently dead from this incident which is clearly terrorist related.
The affected are of many nationalities, not just Britishers, but include French schoolchildren, an American tourist and so on so it has touched many people around the world and we know that the people of Canada, Australia, New Zealand with the reminder of the Commonwealth, the leaders of our European neighbours such as France, Belgium and Germany, our great ally, the United States of America and many others are thinking of us and are together as one at this terrible time.
Five dead and scores injured can never be be justified and are 'too many' but it has to be said we have a lot to thankful of such as the speed the police, emergency services were on the deal keeping people safe and treating those who could.
Parliament wasn't stormed. Politicians, staff and visitors including children were kept safe.
We owe them all a lot including the two who were killed.
Going forward, we have all resolved to carry on our lives even with more vigilance presently than before getting on with our lives,going to work, Parliament doing its job democracy and freedom upheld for all.
Terrorism WILL NOT prevail over Liberty and Freedom.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Leaving minus part of ones country

Harder, more old school posting today that between the everyday fluff this blog was more noted for that that other one never goes into brought about this weeks Current Affairs.
Getting on for nearly nine months back, we had here in the United Kingdom, a referendum that asked us if we wished to remain in the European Union or if we wished to leave.
Very much a simple tick which of the two boxes you agree with thing although nobody would say the propositions themselves don't have complexities and for some people the final outcome was more a finely balanced judgement than just a straightforward Yes.
Well the one thing we do know know is our Prime Minister will start the formal process of leaving with its discussions by months end having gotten Royal assent Thursday with much arguing around the legality of Government just starting the process and what if any approval by Parliament is required upon the completion of negations by both the United Kingdom's and the European Union's negotiators.
Going back some two and half years ago however Scotland held a referendum of its own about remaining  a member of the United Kingdom or establishing itself as a fully independent state to which the outcome was to remain a part of the United Kingdom by a majority of ten percent.
Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the majority SNP party and First Minister of the Scottish Parliament however has decided  that although it was said to be decided for a generation, the UK exiting the European Union including leaving the Single Market and Customs Union to control migration and make own trading agreements so undermines Scotland that another be held between the Fall of 2018 and Spring 2019 and is pushing a bill through institution to cause it to be considered by the UK House of Commons.
The problem with this is it would be right in the middle of the negotiations for the whole of the UK to leave the EU including any terms that would effect Scottish Interests and these would be helped by the best brains of the Civil Service so not only does this add extra layers on for Scotland, the nature of what may even be agreed under Independence may alter it plus these same 'brains' would not be available for those talks.
Even if all of this were to happen, upon the UK leaving the EU, that would take Scotland out and so it would need to wait in line to apply as itself (there would be no question of 'taking' the UK's place) so for a period Scotland would be outside the EU anyway.
Then, many Scots who do favour independence don't like the EU whose popularity has dropped a lot so mixing the idea of Independence with joining an unliked institution that does usurp some sovereignty may not play out too well.
As well some four-fifths of Scotland's business is with the remainder of the UK and that upon Scotland joining the EU would be effected by the terms  agreed between the remainder of the UK and the EU plus they'd be expected to work toward or adopt outright the Euro as currency that would complicate life for individuals crossing the border and business.
Then the border itself may need fortification being a EU/England+Wales+Northern Ireland one that may require checkpoints, guards and travel documents.
Who is going to pay for that if Scotland votes for independence? The English taxpayer who will be no doubt livid???
 If this question really needs re-examining, on grounds of practicality and giving everyone an informed basis of what life post Brexit would impact everyone including Scots, this really is best left until at least 2020. Maybe as former Prime Minister Brown is suggesting a more overtly federal structure for the whole UK including Scotland is a more realistic option for all of us?
It just smacks of political opportunism rather than a serious attempt to deal with real issues.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Musical gifts

I don't usually make do two consecutive editions on this blog anymore but the timing would be off if I left this until next Saturday so here goes.
I had a birthday recently which was marked on two sites by birthday wishes by friends and did have a few presents that included two cds.
This is a five cd set in the low rent card sleeve in box sort that is very common now in the UK and Europe that has the first five albums this pioneering Sheffield, England "New Romantic" band issued where the card sleeve is an exact replica of the original lp sleeve right down to marking side one and two!
Unlike the remastered editions of the first three from 2006, these discs are just the original lp program with no bonus tracks and having listened to them they have preserved much of the original dynamics in the mastering which is something I was concerned about  ever since my copy of Pleasure One developed 'sticky top' and my copies of the others were downloads of so-so quality.
A worse fate came to my original 1991 copy of this album by the Scottish Band, Big Country, where the disc itself had started to go rusty due to so-called CD Rot and nearly every copy had it!
This edition is the 2016 Deluxe one where you have the whole album plus bonus tracks across two discs and that'll be replacing it.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Let's redefine disability away!

This fortnights edition will be more old school Daytime Office Girl Crisis than what I have published more in the last ten and bit month but inspiration is at hand as the expression might go.
Ever since its introduction, Personal Independence Payments, otherwise called P.I.P.s the gradual replacement for 1992's  Disability Living Allowance, a payment made regardless of employment status to help with costs of maintaining independence and personal dignity has been dogged by controversy from the designed in to lose 20% of existing DLA claimants element, movements in who gains what levels of payment, reducing the unable or virtually unable to walk criteria for around 200 yards to under 50 and so on.
The consensus among disabled people and many in charity sector has been that this while potentially offering a higher payout to a few was rather more about reducing the total claimant bill fitting in with more the idea of medical adaptions and technology reducing the disabling impact to those of us who are disabled while rather ignoring how this was to be funded by the individual in an era of reduced grants and local government provided support.
Well the proverbial hit the fan this weekend when a assistant of the Prime Minister started to talk about keeping P.I.Ps for "genuine disabled" not people sitting at home taking pills.
What he was alluding to were to court decision against the governments criteria that said they needed to consider conditions such as social anxiety where a person may be unable to go say to a doctors appointment or get the shopping in so that a person may go with them on on their behalf as say a carer that was estimated to increase the bill somewhat.
Part of the problem was his wording which as a someone who has invisible disabilities such as memory issues and social anxiety as well as learning and physical ones is offensive implying that what we have isn't interfering in regular everyday life to the point it disables us taking us back the days of only physical  or sensory disabilities being accepted and all else not visible being treated with suspicion  or widespread ridicule.
The other is many physical conditions may be part managed by pills at home such as painkillers, some many not manage weight issues that make things worse for themselves but they're exempted from any similar consideration. And why the rush to shut down this widening of the criteria?
Many us feel the buzz word "sustainability" in the context of sustainable disability welfare payments really means paying the least to the fewest consistent with relatively low taxation plans.
The minister tried to suggest care packages as delivered by Care Trusts would provide what these people need but there's no indication how many of these people would get anything like the same care and how  with shrinking health and council budgets with a political imperative to deal with the frail elderly to avoid so-called "bed blocking" at hospitals how much of these funds would be spend on people of working age requiring considerable support.
That policy measure doesn't actually justify in itself the attempt to reduce the type of disabilities P.I.Ps are supposed to help promote personal independence for.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Eleven years of blogging

Eleven years today, blogging began here on what became Daytime Office Girl Crisis when indeed I was working as that office girl trying to balance  parts of my life while living in a social media free environment where Angels and a Music Forum were pretty much the only online essentials in my life with anything else bookmarked, more looked at  if I had a spare moment.
Home computing for me was in its infancy, having only just gotten DSL broadband, the computer itself was big, warm and really not that good for using for hours at a stretch so I'd only look between forum posts for clues on why I felt different than most people and  some sites just were uncomfortable so you skip past the hopping from link to link.
Early posts tended to reflect that site preference as I posted about fashion, odd topics that came up on the Angels site, what femininity meant and then take a swing toward posting about movies, anime and yes music  cos music did and still does mean a lot to me apart from being a cross-site unifying thing.
It wasn't too long before things got more complicated as I started to look at topics like what it means when you are younger than your years , that you enjoy some of those experiences because they help you deal with life.
All of which would be fine other than some people get totally the wrong idea about or feel in some way uncomfortable with you for just being you in their spot as if having a condition that places my functioning in more that area anyway I had any real choice only to hide it away.
But then that came at point of huge emotional turmoil and more burying bones wasn't going to help as part of those problems stemmed from the mis-match between my functioning age and perceived more adult sophistication.  I had to slowly come out at Angels, hoping people their could at least try to understand and accept it as much as I avoided pushing it in their faces, still trying to fit in as best I could.
Over that period I found more of that side of me, exploring it, finding a place that was more calm backwater off the beaten track talk more about it and finally came out face to face with people letting the whole me out so I felt more complete, having fun.
That took us around to the question of what this blog was about as so much of my life slotted in my more littles one which in some ways a place to talk about some more adult topics from time to time and how my other side slots in although it won't be published quite as often as it used to.
I did think at one point last year that this blog while not being removed was going to be more parked for posterity but events have shown a need, albeit a reduced one instead for it and with that we mark it's eleventh year of publication.
We're celebrating that with a change of avatar that reflects the whole me, the one that mixed an interest in current affairs and more serious matters with play together with the likes as I had then as one whole package.
Thanks Angels.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

That boarding school girl - a critique


I suppose the very first thing to say is writing a critique is not something I am accustomed to, not being a skill taught at my boarding school but having read That Boarding School Girl, I am able to make some comment upon the story and the style used by Dorita Fairlie Bruce.
One aspect of her writing style in this story and that of her Nancy at St.Brides is the way she describes the relationships in more full, personal way of the Sixth form, from whom the prefects are selected to that of the girls in form Vb and the maintenance of personal friendships.
There is a strong element of Protestant Christian morality running in terms how they girls behaviour is judged, the work ethic where Nancy raises the average of the form and also in the redemption of her moral character following her leaving St Brides after a number of serious incidents and of breaches of school rules.
In many ways, the message one gets is that honest hardworking endeavour as explorfied in her putting aside personal pleasure to ensure she is at the top of her subjects, that she does not let down herself, her Aunt and Grandmother.She redeems herself though hard work even if stubborn over not revealing just why she feels she has to work so hard and why St. Brides and her departed company even if it would of been better understood for being open about it.
Dorita touches on inter school feuds, a not uncommon fact of school life, and how the one between Maudsley, Nancy’s  school and of neighbouring  Larkiston while seen by some as tradition worth preserving had become both increasingly out of control with children being hurt and also losing any real meaning. Toward the end of of the book where the Head is able to bring a inter school cricket match between the two, you can see establishing a proper arena for such matters to be settled works.
Connected with this the idea of the moral and physical improvement through Guildry - the setting and in specting of  standards, of teaching first aid and nutrition and moral education is shown as a guild is established at Maudsley but off the premises and it is open to Larkiston children. Part of the aim was to bring together both sets of children and build bridges helping to end the feud.
Nancy through this term comes on from the unsocialized impulsive and immature for her age girl that was asked to leave St Brides to one who is beginning to mature, becoming an asset not least in the final pages where Charity Sheringham, whose hand was cut and strapped up unable to compete in the inter school cricket, is replaced by Nancy who leads the team to a memorable draw.
What makes these stories different and the more important in the canon of Girls Only fiction, having read Nancy at St. Brides too, is her use of biblical and literary  allusions together with more stretching vocabulary than many, being almost a junior fiction for the advanced reader that makes for a most rewarding read.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Reflections on a away visit

I've been away for a number of days in connection with that all encumbering part of my life that I don't really need to write a large account of here other than it's so very much the me I've been talking about for the  last ten months or so about here.
There are some reflections I do feel the need to talk about about on here one is learning to be grateful for what people freely do for you such as seeing I was struggling at one railway station a couple kindly offered to help carry my luggage and even checked when I got to the end of the stairwell I was all right who I no idea of.
There's the people who kept an eye on me as I was feeling a little homesick where I stayed, spending time with and the friend who knowing the sort of fiction I like, gave me a cherished book from their collection.
Then there is a friend of mine who kindly put me up, offering a cooked meal and a lift to the train coming back completely out of the blue, seeing I was on the right platform for my train to come in.
These acts of kindness really moved me but whereas in the past I'd of blocked out my emotions I thanked them properly for all those things they did not have to do,that I have no right to expect nor demand expressing my gratitude, revealing my sense of being humbled openly.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Thoughts while away

We are just a few weeks away from the eleventh anniversary of this blog so during the period where I'll be away to let more of myself out with friends, I thought I'd write out a few words.
I think one thing is I'm an avid collector of recorded music seeing many a format come and go over the years so to be honest I haven't a real affinity to any one although all around the MiniDisc was my favourite everyday one even though only a small number of pre-recorded titles existed for it and the cd has been on the whole a boon for collectors with many recordings we feared would never be heard beyond the vaults coming out, well compiled with jacket notes.
I think I have over 500 cds in my collection as much as try to avoid duplication although with popular recordings there are often differences between mono and stereo versions and when it comes to some classical works the interpretations by conductors do vary so there are some titles I may have two versions of even. 
I'm a very tactile person and that also shows in my preference for physical books  over so-called E-books and readers, preferring the feel and smell of paper, brilliant colour illustrations and the sense of handing down a treasured possession although I do for reference material such as manuals the E-book has it's uses and perhaps the idea of a download code included in a physical hardback edition would work for those who'd find reading on a train or in hotels vacationing but who also like the actual item rather like some records now have.
In effect a portable version included. 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

We are leaving

After all the turmoil that followed our referendum on remaining or leaving the European Union last year, the wheels are slowly beginning to turn following last weeks vote in the Common's in favour of activating the so-called Article 50,  the clause that allows for a negotiated method of leaving. 
This clearly signals what however narrow the vote overall was although here in the Midlands, it was strongly in favour of leaving, we are actually going to leave after various attempts to tie up this and the tension felt across the country over it.
I think it's important to remember in outline, the Prime Minister put in place a call for this vote that  was voted for by Parliament which gave the choice to the people and from that for it to be respected even if by failing to include the wording  that was in the Governments leaflet we all had that clearly implied having voted they would accept it as binding.
To me this shows yet again MP's not being sufficiently responsible in scrutinizing legislation, making sure it is clear, beyond reasonable legal doubt  what should of happened from the minute the votes were counted and the result declared.
To make the most of the return to full sovereignty  which includes the right to run our country in accordance with our wishes, we really need to ensure the legislature is working at it's best.


Monday, 16 January 2017

Check and replace

Seeing we're into the new year, I've been checking through my wardrobe for things that can be tossed away usually because over time they've gotten the worse for wear and given now how my life happens to be, it's all more functional stuff  a bit like rather college or school wear than high fashion.
Take my underwear for instance it's hard wearing, has a very close fit where you need it acting like draught excluders, and tends to be mainly of one colour to match my dresses and skirts. 
Seeing how some had gone I've replaced them by navy blue gym knickers which feel very snug on me and are very comfortable and unless it's really cold I tend to wear long socks rather than fashion tights which is yet another indication of the evolution of me over the time this blog started even if truthfully bits of it were always there mixed in.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Winter term

I've always had a bit of a mania for dolls to be honest stemming from childhood and if my memory happens to be correct, I have from time to time talked about some of my porcelain collectors dolls on here before I had to talk about this other side of me and since I had some more 'play' rag dolls and that.

What I'd give for set of dolls in British school uniform,eh?  Rather more than you'd  think and around now is when you'd be getting ready to return to school had you been an actual child and school is one setting I felt I belonged in to be honest. Safe, carefree, looked after.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Reflections on the last year


I am going to write a few words today about  me and this blog as things have changed quite a lot since I originally started it and I am quite sure you will of noticed I haven't been blogging as much on it as I had.
I have a different focus running in my life than a good number people, some of which has been touched on in posts here, others perhaps on other sites and social media and it is fair to say that side of me is very much the prevailing one which has it's full expression elsewhere.
When in some ways you are "younger than your years" and that's a central part of you in reality there is only limited scope for much else  and I had found in so many ways there was little really different to post on this blog to really justify the amount of time a decent blogging cycle for it.
I was finding generally the only stuff that was unique to this blog was some of my observations around social trends and odd political comment as most of my other interests were and are connected more to that younger, more child-like side of me which I can now see is where I always was.
There's a certain irony in some respects that aspects of that with the love and support of people who respect how that makes me, is helping me a good deal more in learning to be more independent and more mature by working with it where before I had felt I had to pretend to be more like others and struggling with life.
For the first time in my life I feel happy content even being more able to handle what life my throw at me because I feel so much more in control of 'the real me'  and that's what this years been all about.