Friday, July 31, 2009

The Intimidating Estate Agent

One of my favourite comedy sketches, from the Peter Serafinowicz Show.

(BBC)

Further News About My Brother

He's been told about the tests and it isn't anything nasty, although further tests will be needed to asertain the problem. That said, a big sigh of relief over what it isn't.
Thanks to those of you who have been supportive and who have prayed about this etc..

Dirty Pants In Space

I don't care if they are experimental and odourless, or whether his fellow astronauts wouldn't mind. You'd never get me doing that, for my own self respect if nothing else and I wouldn't want the whole world to know either!

Sir Bobby Robson 1933-2009

Much missed and well regarded. It should go without saying that he was the finest England Manager we have had since Sir Alf Ramsey. He was not only a gentleman, but it was his devotion to the Beautiful Game and his tenacity which helped England as far as the Semi Finals in the 1990 World Cup. England has never been that succesful before or since and so we have much to thank him for injecting some much needed national pride, even if it was just for a flicker of a moment

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part CXXXVII: Jeremy Jacobs

Jeremy Jacobs is a corporate present and speaker. He reports for Sportsmedia and has made Web TV appearances on Leicester Square television, amongst other things. His blog can be found here.



What made you decide to start blogging?


To get some sort of internet presence



What is your best blogging experience?


The support I received for my charity trek in Africa



And your worst?


Couldn’t possibly tell you



What do you regard as your best blog entry?


Top 10 prophecies for 2008 at “Corporate Presenter”



Favourite blogs?


Too many to list



Being a broadcaster and having recently blogged on the death of Walter Cronkite, do you have a particular favourite UK News and Current Affairs broadcaster, apart from yourself?


Emily Maitlis


What do you say was your best career move so far?


Still to make it!


Has the demise of 18 Doughty Street left a gap on Internet TV?


Yes


Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?


Chile & Argentina


Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?


Russia


Do you have a favourite political figure in history?


Yes, several.


Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?


Lady Thatcher



Favourite Bond movie?


From Russia With Love


Favourite Doctor Who?


William Hartnell


Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?


Chocolate


Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?


Steely Dan


In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford , Cambridge , or Barsby, Leics..?


Try Monte Carlo , Madrid or Rome


Favourite national newspaper?


Daily Telegraph



What would you say your hobbies were?


Walking & Talking


And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?


“I’m in the mood for love” - various

“Midnight at the Oasis” - Maria Muldaur

“5.15” - The Who

Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson

Kalooki Nights - Howard Jacobson

Greeting from Bury Park - Sarfraz Mansoor

The Right To Die

Whilst I have every sympathy for Debbie Purdy and want to see her last days go by without her suffering and being in anguish, I have grave reservations about today's ruling.
The reason is simple, whilst the law asks for clarification (nothing wrong about that in itself), it could give strength to the pro-euthanasia lobby the next time such a case comes forward, once clarification is made. It would also mean, if clarification was made and it was strongly against acts of euthanasia, that some relatives who have acted out of misguided, but well-meaning intentions and who have the grief over the death of a loved one, could face prosecution and a prison sentence and I for one feel that is a bad way to handle such an issue.
Because the thing is, if it isn't obvious already, is that I am very much against euthanasia. In my case it's for three reasons. First of all my Christian conscience speaks against it, secondly to legalise euthanasia allows the floodgates to open and the very real possibility of relatives and friends convincing themselves that it is right to kill the person in question because they are a "burden", and no amount of protective legislation will prevent that. Similar arguments about exceptional cases were put forward when abortion was legalised and whilst many women have abortions for fairly convincing reasons, there are some who do not.
The third reason is the Hippocratic Oath, a tract of ethical rights devised by the Ancient Greeks which seems to have little impact in today's society. That Oath binds physicians and Doctors to protect life, not to end life, and in all things when one looks at the arguments presented, one must argue for the protection of the vulnerable and weak.
That said, I would argue that more needs to be done in terms of helping the NHS. Many people who are terminally ill are frightened and scared. They don't so much fear death as much as they fear suffering and the loss of dignity and rightly so. There are many ways that can be dealt with, one is palliative care, the need for more money to go into hospices, many of which do brilliant work and rarely get the credit they richly deserve. Money should not just be poured into the NHS, but in training Doctors, Nurses, and Physicians in people skills, in helping to foster a real sense of compassion towards patients which is sadly lacking in some of today's hospitals. When my own time comes, hopefully many years from now, I would like it to be sudden and in my sleep, but if that does not happen, if I am going to die an unpleasant lingering death, then I would like to go in a hospice, or at home, being cared for and tended to and for my next of kin be able to praise the way I was treated in my last months. I don't want to die in a hospital ward feeling lonely and scared with brusque and cold handed hospital staff tending to me. I imagine many of you feel the same about yourselves, so maybe with that in mind, we ought to campaign and work more towards better palliative care.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Personal Note

Its not often I mention anything too personal on my blog, but for those of you who are of the praying sort, if you could consider my brother right now I would be greatful.
Recently he has had to undergo some tests and the Doctors have the results and want him to see them as soon as possible. Naturally this is somewhat unnerving for my brother, although there could be many reasons as to why this is. One possibility is that he may need to have an operation for kidney stones, in any case we would like this to be cleared up and for my brother to not only find out what it is, but to be reassured that it is nothing major

Bi Annual Bloggers Social Summer 2009

It was slightly fractured this time, in part due to the Jubilee and Victoria Lines being shut down, but four of us did turn up; myself, Cally's Kitchen, Tim Roll-Pickering, and Karin Robinson.
As it was, most of the social took place at St Stephen's Tavern, due to The Westminster Arms closing early on Sunday's, but a good time was had by all with discussion ranging from elections, to blogging, to various political events, to general all-round gossip.
Other than that I can't remember all that much, which shows that it must have been a good time

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part CXXXVI: Lynnette Kelly

(Lynnette Kelly)
















Lynnette was born in Coventry in 1962 to parents of irish and Scottish backgrounds. Intensive family history research has found all roads lead to Ireland but all branches characterised by poverty. Married with 4 children, which means she needs to keep searching for that elusive rich ancestor.
Lynnette has lived in Coventry, London, and Brunei. She has a degree in applied social science from Coventry University and a PhD in Ethnic Relations from University of Warwick. Lynnette worked for a while with refugees from Bosnia, and used that experience as the basis for her PhD. She has also worked as a research fellow at Warwick, working on areas related to immigration and refugees, ethnic minorities and health. She is now a councillor for Henley ward in Coventry, and is Coventry Labour Party's spokesperson on issues relating to children and young people.Here blog can be found here.


What made you decide to start blogging?

I met Louise Baldock, a Liverpool councillor, and she inspired me.


What is your best blogging experience?

When I got a comment on my blog from someone in the US - it's nice to know its looked at from so far away!


And your worst?

When I realised that when people say 'don't write anything that may not look good taken out of context' YOU REALLY SHOULD LISTEN!!! I was accused in a council meeting of supporting child neglect because of a joke I made about my nephew and niece needing baby sitting. And then the Tories took that one sentence out of context.
I censor myself much more now.


What do you regard as your best blog entry?

Dedication to the cause, back in around October last year. Politics and humour wrapped up together. A good one, even if I say so myself.
Or it could be is global warming all my fault in march 09. That's probably the funniest. But read them all!!


Favourite blogs?

I have to say my Mum's - Wynne-kellyworld@blogspot.com, and also Louise Baldock's - a great example of using a blog to show what work you are doing


What inspired you to go into politics?

I kind of fell into it- I am unable to keep my mouth shut and can't bear moaning for the sake of it, I will do complaining but seeking a solution too.
That and Thatcher getting elected before I was old enough to vote, then proceeding to destroy British society. Before her the Daleks were the scariest things on telly.


Its tough for all of us within the Labour Party at the moment, but how are Labour in Coventry doing and what signs of encouragement do you see for the Party there?

We are doing really well considering the national picture. We lost control of the council five years ago, the year I got elected (the two are NOT connected) and have made gains every election since then. We are confident of taking back control of the council next year. In my own ward we increased the majority again even though we had a new candidate and he was running against a sitting councillor who was kicked out of the labour party, and to increase the majority despite those factors proves we're on the up!


What is the best and the worst thing about being a councillor?

Best thing is when you can make a positive difference for someone, whether that be getting a new play area put in or just making sure someone gets the right advice over their debt problems. The worst is the abusive phone calls. They aren't regular, but they are unpleasant, and I always worry that one day my kids will have to listen to a tirade of racist abuse.


Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

Loads of places, but one day I will go to Canada to visit family there.


Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

I'd love to go back to Bosnia. When I was last there it was only a few years after the fighting had stopped, there was some reconstruction going on but there was still a lot of rubble, and a lot of divisions. I'd like to revisit the catholic church in Konjic- it was being rebuilt and had been deconsecrated. And I'd like to see if the cafe is still serving a blob of mayo in the middle of its pizzas. (we were told they traditionally had egg on them, but because of the war and shortages they used mayo. I don't know if this is true, as pizzas aren't really part of the gastronomic history of the Balkans are they?) And I'd like to spend more time in Sarajevo, and I'd like to see Mostar again. In Mostar we went in what was billed as an original authentic Bosnian house, kept in the same way for hundreds of years. It was free to enter, we wandered around, thought it didn't look that special, and then when we went to wander out again this little old couple who had been sat around ignoring us suddenly leapt into action and demanded money. We had a choice of coughing up a huge (in Bosnian terms) sum of money or flattening them, as they were between us and the door and they weren't moving! Despite being accompanied by two members of the UN Mission to Kosovo on their day off, I thought paying up was safest. Little Bosnian ladies can be very scarey. I learnt a new Bosnian phrase when I was there - roughly translated it was 'this building has not been cleared and may contain mines'. Ah, happy days.



Who, excluding the present leader and Prime Minister, do you regard as the best British Prime Minister, and if different, the best Labour leader?

Wilson was probably the best prime minister, but as far as leaders go I'm torn between Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock. Foot may not have won an election, but he knew what he stood for and stood by his principles. Kinnock laid the foundations for party reform AND got rid of militant.


Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?

I've been inspired by too many to mention. But it was Thatcher that convinced me I couldn't sit idly by. Party round my house when she finally does the decent thing and pops her clogs!


Favourite Bond movie?

The one where he dies at the end. Haven't they made that one yet?


Favorite Doctor Who?

Has to be David Tennant.


Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Vanilla every time


Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

The Clash.


In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?

Would have to be Oxford so I could get to the libraries


Favourite national newspaper?

The Grauniad


What would you say your hobbies were?

Hobbies? I don't have time for hobbies.
I do British Military Fit when I can, that's about it.


And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?

London Calling - The Clash
American Idiot - Green Day
Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand

Private Peaceful - Michael Morpurgo (its a kids book but it is brilliant - read it in an afternoon lying on a beach in Cyprus with tears rolling down my face)
The Sound of Laughter - Peter Kay
Freakonomics - Levitt and Dubner

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Mandelson Interview

Yes Mandelson is right, Labour have an uphill struggle to win the next election. Thats so obvious, it ranks with bears doing their business in the woods and the Pope definetly being a Catholic. Labour's main problem for the next few years, irrespective of whether we win the next election, is to work out how to renew itself so as to meet the demands and challenges that the next decade will bring.
As for whether Mandelson being asked as to whether he could be PM. Why couldn't he just say no. Lord Mandelson has many talents and has been useful to the Labour Party in the past, but being PM is something which is never going to happen!

Simon Heffer's Rant

Anyone remotely aquainted with Simon Heffer would know that this was inevitable, but aside from the question as to why he has decided to lay into Cameron now (with less than a year to go before the general election), there is the fact that Heffer seems to be mirroring the views of a significant no of Conservative activists. Some have made their views clear on the ConservativeHome website, with at least a dozen people posting their support for Heffer. If you work on the principle that for every vocal criticism of a product there are four or five who silently agree, then the Conservatives have a problem, which seems to be borne out by Heffer's comment that;

"I know I am not alone in this: many of you write to me every week to say the same thing. There is particular anger among the middle classes about a man with private wealth failing to understand the impact of high taxes on those less blessed than he is, or refusing to defend the struggling private schools that so many of them send children or grandchildren to.

Some of you cling to the hope that Mr Cameron knows what must be done, and is sparing details of the strong medicine until in power. Given that he has never exhibited the slightest scintilla of principle at any time during his political career, I cannot imagine what the evidence is for that. Some of you also write and berate me for attacking Mr Cameron's politics, apparently confusing the role of newspaper columnist and propagandist. For the avoidance of doubt, I am the former. I want a Conservative government as much as any of you; I just happen to doubt that one is on offer."

He then goes on to say;

"What I fear most, as I watch this circus of gestures and promises, is a re-run of the Heath government. We are watching the preparations not for office, but for an orgy of managerialism. It could even be worse than 1970-74, for the economic situation was (at the start) nothing like so bad, and Heath did have around him people of sense and experience with some bottle-age on them. Mr Cameron may not need to improve his position in terms of winning the war; he still has time to improve it in terms of winning the peace that will follow. If he persists in seeking to emulate the most saccharine and profligate aspects of New Labour, his premiership will be a wretched one indeed: and not just for him."

I am not a person who respects Simon Heffer's political views, but some of what he says here is worth considering. If we are to get a repeat of the Heath government if the Conservatives win the next general election, then we are in big trouble! In any case I think it is fair to say that in terms of winning over sceptical activists, David Cameron has his work cut out, and four years into his leadership means that this is a dangerous situation to be in


Monday, July 27, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part CXXXV: Tristan Osborne

By day Tristan Osborne works in the City, but in his spare time he is a Labour Party activist within the Medway Unitary Authority. His blog is called Musings From Medway


What made you decide to start blogging?

Several reasons. Firstly, it was born out of frustration that Medway has a number of right-of-centre commentators and I felt their was a gap for a centre-left approach and opinion. In addition, it was established to highlight local Tory opinions which diverge far to the right of the leadership; the real membership and its opinions. It is also a way of supporting local campaigns that challenge and oppose appalling judgements made by our current Conservative Council.


What is your best blogging experience?

Probably the numerous emails of support from school parents on my blog articles supporting the campaigns to save local primary schools. One parent from St Peter's Primary school in Medway highlighted that my blog was always a useful point of call for information and updates.


And your worst?

When I started blogging it attracted the attention of a lunatic right wing blogger in my local area who decided to make extremely low personal attacks. It is always a fine line but sometimes people cross it. We all have our fans!


What do you regard as your best blog entry?



Favourite blogs?



What inspired you to go into politics?

Equality - I joined because I opposed the homophobic campaign that the Tories ran in 1997 and 2001 and their failure to apologise for section 28 and the utter contempt they have showed, until relatively recently for anyone outside the traditional box.


How do you see the future ideological direction of the Labour Party with regards to recent events and in light of James Purnell's appearance on Newsnight, which you blogged on?

I am more pragmatic then ideological - [cue hisses]. I share some of the major concerns and worries on our current level of public support and the public perception of the leadership which I get whilst canvassing. If Labour looses the next election it will need to return to its base before moving into the centre ground. You need firm foundations before you can build a house and foundations take time to set. The New Labour 'type' coalition can be rebuilt because investment in public services, social justice and helping the poorest are Labour values and not Tory ones. Make no mistake though - you win by appealing to the centre ground.


Will you stand for Strood North again?

I loved campaigning in Strood North in 2007. I learnt a lot from more seasoned campaigners and it was one of the only seats in Kent where we took a Tory Council seat. I would love to honour of standing in Strood again as its an area of Medway which is currently being ignored by Medway Conservatives and people living here deserve better.


Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

Keeping it close to home - Rome


Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

New York and Hong Kong - fantastically vibrant places


Who, excluding the present leader and Prime Minister, do you regard as the best British Prime Minister, and if different, the best Labour leader?

Labour Leader - Ed Miliband / Ben Bradshaw / Harriet Harman


Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Tony Blair - he made the Labour Party electable. Simple


Favourite Bond movie?

Tommorrow Never Dies


Favourite Doctor Who?

David Tennant


Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

White chocolate


Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

Kings of Leon - contemporary!


In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?

Newcastle


Favourite national newspaper?

Times


What would you say your hobbies were?

Blogging, gym, campaigning, theatre, cricket, Sci fi, cinema and shopping!


And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?

Nudge - Thaler & Sunstein
The State We're In - Will Hutton
No Logo - Naomi Klein

When you say nothing at all - R Keating
Turn back the hands of time - R Kelly
Wonderful Life - Black