Posts Tagged ‘Flip Side’
How different life feels on days like this. The allotments are alive with sunshine, every colour is enhanced and the path that has been covered in ice and then mud is suddenly easy on the feet. Even the dandelions, which should have no place in the home of gardeners, are throwing their heads defiantly in the warm air. If only this could last for ever! Mind you there is a flip side to everything, already the water suppliers are warning of a hosepipe ban. Just months ago there were extensive floods and what I don’t understand is the failure to build more reservoirs. But then again the things that I don’t understand would fill a Cyril Smith-sized book!
And right now the Alternative Vote is right up there. We all received a leaflet from ‘call me Dave’ Cameron yesterday. It even has a picture of the Old Etonian signing autographs with his left hand. perhaps he uses the right one for official business? Either way, he is urging us to vote no on May 5th.
The Alternative Vote, says ‘Dave’, is unfair, expensive and discredited. Discredited by whom? Pass, although he does mention that only Australia and Papua New Guinea use it, so maybe Shane Warne and co no longer see it as fair dinkum. He also mentions that countmg can take days which is a real no-no for those who enjoy a tension-laden booze-up on election night. And he underlines the fact that the candidate who finishes third can win.
And that is the feature that puts me off the Clegg/Miliband dream ticket. It’s as if after the 1oo metres final in the Olympics the spectators are asked to list their favourites in a sequence one to five and eventually we are told that Mr Bolt has been displaced on the winners rostrum by Bert Brown from Croydon Harriers.
That may not make sense to you, it scarcely does to me and I wrote it. But even more puzzling to this simple soul is ‘Dave’s’ claim that supporters of such odious people as the BNP will “get their votes counted many more times than everyone else”. I think I know what he means but it is an odd way to put it.
There is of course in all this an assumption that we all have alternative choices. But is this the case? My dear old Gran was what she called ‘a red hot Liberal’ and hated any candidate that threatened gorgeous Lloyd George and his mates. I suspect there are many who on the left and right who feel much the same and would only tick a second or third choice as a means of tactical voting.
I am open to persuasion on this. Right now, first-past-the-post seems more in line with my approach to life, I certainly disagree with Albert and Jack. they refuse to vote until such time as the ballot paper offers ‘None of them’ as an option. If everyone followed that approach it wouldn’t take long to count the votes, but it sounds a bit unpatriotic to me. And in extremis it would leave the loopy bloke from Bacup who always votes and always votes for the Monster Raving Loonies running the country. On second thoughts, that might be no worse than now!
I’ve just had a final thought. Why is PR guru ’Dave’ so keen to have a no vote? Presumably because he sees disadvantage for the Tories under AV. And I don’t even understand that !
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY: FASHION; “A dress has no meaning unless it makes a man want to take it off”….Francoise Sagan “The Pope. Great guy. But in a fashion sense, he’s one hat away from being the Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan”…..Jon Stewart “Her hat looks as if it had made a forced landing on her head”…..Harriet Cobb “A hat should be taken off when you greet a lady and left off for the rest of your life. Nothing looks more stupid than a hat”….P J O’Rourke ”They should put expiration dates on clothes so we would know when they go out of style”…..Garry Shandling “Some women hold up dresses that are so ugly and they always say the same thing. ‘This looks much better on’ On what? On fire?”…..Rita Rudner “I don’t own a dress. I wear skirts but I look like a netball teacher”….Victoria Wood “you have no idea how much it costs to look this cheap”….Dolly Parton “A sweater is a garment worn by a child when his mother feels chilly”…..Nora Ephron “If the shoe fits get another just like it”…..George Carlin “Men who wear turtlenecks look like turtles”…..Doris Lily “The softer a man’s head, the louder his socks”……Helen Rowland “Some women think bikinis are immodest. Others have beautiful figures”….Olin Miller
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Harold Wilson 2. Margaret Thatcher
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who wrote books about Inspector Morse? 2. In which city was Bertolucci’s Last Tango?
Several of us went to a night out at a place called Rivington Barn last night. It was a superb do held on behalf of the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, and organised by a group of wonderful ladies who rejoice in the name of the Adlington Witches. Thanks to their toilless efforts the attendance was massive, the local world and his wife were there. If Mr Cameron really wants to understand community involvement he should ask Marina, Kath, Carol or Marje. Some have experienced cancer and they are fighting back big time.
Of course the flip side was that we were somewhat bleary-eyed when we turned up late to let the hens out and to continue repairs on what looks like a scene from the Blitz. When Albert hit his thumb with the hammer the air turned blue and I am not referring to the Conservative Party. That is not a safe talking point right now for even the staunch lifetime Tories amongst us are upset and muttering about a new poll tax moment. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the forests have suddenly become the biggest challenge facing the coalition.
A few days ago I pondered on this strange development. The treasury has confirmed that the sale of all the state-owned forests and woodlands will result in a financial loss so we can dismiss the idea that it is part of the deficit reduction plan. So why on earth did the cabinet agree to launch such a controversial idea at a time when it will have more than enough hostility to contend with over spending cuts? Yesterday we were given an answer by Julian Lewis, the Tory MP for New Forest East. He said that the wheeze was dreamed up by “those unelected advisers, those bright sparks, who thought up this rubbish about privatising forests”. he had plenty of support. Zac Goldsmith, who headed up David Cameron’s environmental policy group when in opposition, said that the proposals “went too far” and he had no idea why anyone thought it sensibel to “be so radical”. Caroline Nokes, one of the Tory MPs in the New Forest, said she was all for shrinking the state but this was ” too big and too much”. In fact a whole number of Conservative leading lights made clear yesterday that they will vote against the government on this, and most admitted that the idea dreamed up by advisers should never have seen the light of day. There is certainly no financial or political advantage to it.
On Friday night we had the first indication that this may be one of those rare issues that brings the usually apathetic British public on to the streets. Junior Minister Mark Harper is the Tory MP for the Forest of Dean. He called a public meeting to explain the supposed benefits of privatisation and the meeting had to be abandoned in uproar. He was pelted with eggs and had to be rescued by police who drove him away in a van. And these were not idealistic students aided and abetted by anarchists, they were typical middle class, middle age, Tory voters. And right across the country similar attitudes are emerging.
On Thursday the government fielded immigration minister Damian Green on the BBC Question Time programme. He seemed bemused by the verbal onslaught over forests and when challenged to give one good reason why the privatisation should go ahead, simply floundered and waved his hands in the air. He understandably couldn’t come up with any justification for spending taxpayers money on what would be the biggest change in land ownership since the Second World War.
The petition being gathered By ’38 Degrees’ on its website is now at the 500,000 mark and climbing. There are clear signs everywhere that this proposal is uniting people right across political colours. There is still time for David Cameron, who clearly had no hand in the plan and assumed it to be a minor issue, to pull the plug on it. But if he continues to identify himself with it and refuses to budge, this could well be his equivalent to Thatcher’s poll tax moment. And even the poll tax had some apparent reason for its creation, forests have none.
Certain it is the straws at which he is clutching will not keep him aloft. In desperation Ministers yesterday said that some of the forests could be sold to the National Trust. Immediately Dame Fiona Reynolds announced that the government had made “no attempt” to talk to the Trust and that to handle such an undertaking would require huge funding.
If this humble ferret-breeder might presume to offer advice to a prime minister it would be pull out now. To many people’s surprise the coalition has touched the nerve of public opinion that triggers massive reaction. All that lies at the end of this road is defeat and humiliation. That possibility may have to be faced on major financial issues, but to fall on his sword over something that even he probably thinks is mistaken is ludicrous.
And this time he cannot hope to let his sidekick, Clegg, take the blame for yesterday the majority of Lib Dem MPs, most of whom have forests in their areas, also signed the petition!
A BAD DAY FOR CRICKET!
The future of international cricket is in the balance. If fans come to believe that match-fixing is prevalent will they pay good money to watch games, the outcome of which has already been decided? No they won’t!
And what is the International Cricket Council doing to stamp out the cancer in the midst of a wonderful game? Not a lot! Yesterday, lenient sentences were handed out to the three Pakistan players found guilty of fixing matches during last year,s tour of this country. But Asif, Amir and Butt could be back playing Test cricket in four years time. Everyone knows that they are simply the tip of a rotten iceberg but the many others possibly behaving in the same way may well conclude that a four year ban is better than trouble with the betting gangs.
Incredibly the authorities have failed to act on a number of other exposures. One such involved the alleged fixing of the match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. A Pakistan player told a former player of fixing and the latter telephoned the authorities hotline with details. That was four months ago and he has yet to even receive an acknowledgement.
Time and again the ICC lifts the lid, hands out token punishment and closes it again. If this goes on the game won’t!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; ” If I owned both Texas and Hell, I’d rent out Texas and live in Hell”….Philip Sheridan “If an Englishman gets run down by a truck he apologises to the truck”….Jackie Mason ”The English have an extraordinary ability to fly into a great calm”….Alexander Woolcott “The Englishman has all the qualities of a poker, except it’s occasional warmth”….Daniel O’Connell “I like the English. They have the most rigid code of immorality in the world”…Malcolm Bradbury “It is no longer true that continentals have sex lives whilst the English have hot-water bottles. Now the English have electric blankets”….George Mikes “A genius is a man who can rewrap a shirt and have no pins left over”….Dino Levi ”Between me and Rudyard Kipling we cover all knowledge, he knows all that can be known, and I know the rest”…..Mark Twain “I cannot tell whether genius is hereditary because God has granted me no offspring”….James McNeill Whistler “What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid on my carpet”….Woody Allen “Philosophy is to the real world as masturbation is to sex”…Karl Marx.
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. John Ford 2. Film Actress
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. For what was John Cranko (died 1973) famous? 2. She wrote ‘Love in a Cold Climate’ and died in 1973. Who ws she?
Sections of the allotment lie under water, what a difference a couple of days can make! One of the inevitable downsides of the good old UK is its unpredictable weather. A few days ago life outdoors felt good, now the only pleasant aspect of the allotment is its capacious shed and even here there are so many steaming coats that it feels like a sauna minus the heat. Like its occupants, the paraffin stove is overwhelmed. At least we all understand the meaning of the old adage about being under the weather!
But there is always a flip-side. Harry is normally too busy for idle chat but today he mentioned that he keeps a diary and we are all in it. Request to see it were firmly repelled and he remarked that he intends to do a ‘Nella Last’. I cottonned on immediately for right now I am deep into the final edition of Nella’s diaries, which hit the bookshops last week. It is one of hundreds of publications by the Mass Observation Society.
Mass Observation is an organisation that was established in the lead up to World War 2 when it was decided to take the pulse of public opinion and morale, a useful aid to government. In no time at all the organisers decided to invite ordinary men and women to keep a daily record of their lives and to forward the handwritten pages to headquarters. To the surprise of all concerned thousands took up the challenge and the archives in Hove contain a vast collection of day-to-day accounts of life during the war on the home front. Even more surprising is the fact that many decided to keep up the habit after the war and Nella Last was one such.
She once wrote that ”I can never understand how the scribbles of such an ordinary person, leading a shut-in, dull life, can possibly have value”. Little did she know, for of all the diaries published with the permission of Mass Observation, hers is the longest and most detailed. The latest, and final, book concerns her life in the fifties and, on picking it up, one almost feels the joy of being welcomed back into someone’s home. And there is plenty to go at for the estimate of her total words exceeds ten million!
During the war Nella felt a sense of release. Previously largely confined to the task of being a housewife she suddenly found herself in great external demand. She worked tirelessly in the WVS which performed near-miracles in raisng funds for troop comforts and caring for the injured. Her home town of Barrow was badly damaged by bombing and there she was too, performing heroic tasks on behalf of the victims. It was really a classic case of the willing horse and from time to time Nella reported sheer exhaustion mingled with exhileration at what had been achieved.
The latest book reveals a very different Nella. Now back to looking after her ailing husband – she rarely refers to him any other way – and short of money, she resents the return to a tedious daily round broken only by occasional visits to her beloved Ulverston. Her two sons are far away and she misses them and, in common with many in the fifties, feels a dark cloud descending in the shape of possible nuclear warfare. Nella even joins the re-formed local Civil Defence.
On the face of it Nell’s post-war life was indeed dull but her daily lengthy entries never are. She explains in depth how she makes the rationned food go around, what the neighbours think about the menacing world as conflict explodes in Korea, and how people view ageing and increasing impairment. Her self undertsanding is acute and it helps her to adapt. Even on issues such as racial discrimination she tells it as it is but her inherent kindness and wisdom always shine through.
Nella’s diaries , which she imagined would die with her, live on and people such as Simon Garfield have testified that “it’s wonderful to be back in Nella’s world again…unquestionably one of the greatest British diaries of the mid-twentieth century”. She once confessed to having the dream of writing a book, little did she know!
To the best of my knowledge no one in my tribe ever put pen to paper in this way. A great pity for how wonderful it would be now to know what they did each day, what they ate, what they loved or hated and how, deep inside, they really saw the world from their tiny corner of it.
So I envy Harry. But it is too late now, for the real delight of diaries such as those of Nella is that one not only learns of the progressive increase in prices and promiscuity alike, one learns above all of the effect of the ageing process on attitudes and personal philosophy.
Maybe I am preaching to the converted, maybe you are one of the many who to this day keeeps a diary or even sends a monthly copy to Mass Observation. If not, and if you are still young, why not consider the investment of a few minutes each day and remember that what you consider mundane now will be fascinating in fifty years time.
End of sermon, but I end with an amusing anecdote. One of the early ventures by the Society was the launch of trial opinion polls, and one of the first was taken in 1945. As a result Winston Churcill was warned that Labour had a substantial lead in the run-up to the election. When told that they sampled 1000 voters he sighed with relief and said that there were near 30 million voters out there!
WE ARE THE LAUGHING STOCK OF THE WORLD!
If the story of the Aircraft Carriers appeared as fiction one would declare it too far-fetched! We are scrapping one that we have and continuing to build two others which will not be ready for many years. When they are, one will be mothballed and then sold and the other converted to limit aircraft types. The reason is that to discontinue manufacture would cost more that continuing to build, this being due to inadequately worded contracts.
And to crown the farce we are told that all this is part of a strategic review. It was of course nothing of the sort. It was a swiftly cobbled together hotch-potch guaranteed to finally destroy the morale of our armed forces at a time when they are facing daily mortalities in a war that cannot be won.
An indication of how makepiece the whole ‘cuts’ plan is comes via the assault on the Beeb. When it finally bucked up courage sufficiently to refuse to take on board the cost of free licences the BBC and ministers entered into a three-day debate aimed at a compromise. As the clock struck midnight the deal was done and the cause of Mr Murdoch advanced accordingly.
The reality is that we are about to witness the greatest political gamble in history. Leading economists in today’s papers warn that the proposed speed of debit reduction will simply take us back into recession. George Osborne and his pals argue otherwise. In truth no one knows and over the next twelve months the coalition will be proved either the wisest men since Soloman or the most inept since Eddie the Eagle. Only time will tell but meantime it would help if Messrs Cameron and Clegg stopped banging on about the whole problem being down to the previous government. Yes it was wsateful but pretending that in some way the Banks were innocent bystanders is crass in the extreme.
I have just come in from talking to a Probus group in Lytham about the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) of 1900 – 1906. I spent years at University stdying archived material and eventually realised that what happened centerd around deception on a grand scale. Suffice to say here that what I discovered convinced me that politicians are not to be trusted, a sentiment confirmed by later events in the Great Depression when the former LRC leading light, MacDonald, formed a coalition with the Conservatives and was expelled from the Labour Party.
So you won’t be too shocked to learn that the answer to the question as to who I trust out of Cameron, Clegg and Miliband is none of them. And the same goes for their abilities, so what happens now is anyone’s guess but of one thing you can be sure. If, as is distinctly possible, we creat a second Great Depression, Clegg will change horses faster than Hopalong Cassidy ever managed!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ: 1. 1979 2. P G Wodehouse
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which actress made her name in the plays of Samuel Beckett? 2. Who starred as the female half of Terry and June?
A leading politician recently referred to the need for a national ‘Dunkirk spirit’ to tackle the potentially ruinous situation enveloping our economy. No one already suffering redundancy or insecurity, severe cut in income on pensions or savings or difficulties in meeting power bills will disagree. Neither will the millions fearing the worst for the value of their properties or those simply too uncertain to book holidays or even a night out.
But the so-called Dunkirk spirit arose from a sense of common suffering and danger. From Churchill down everyone faced one threat and everyone threw their weight behind a single objective. This time everyone is not sharing the nightmare. The so-called fat cats are far removed from the common burden and there is huge resentment in the national air.
The new government is to be applauded for lifting the veil on public sector pay. Unfortunately the revelations are introducing a sense of national unfairness. Of course the flip side of that is that, if Ministers are brave enough, they can at a stroke make huge savings and inspire the rest of us to accept a heavy bout of belt-tightening. What on earth the outgoing government was thinking of in allowing such a scandalous situation to come about is right now beside the point but it has to be said the Brown/Darling reputaion for financial prudence has taken a severe retrospective blow.
We had scarcely recovered from the shock of learning that large numbers of senior civil servants earn fortunes plus gold-plated pensions before yesterday’s further revelations hit us. We now learn that the head of a housing association is pocketing almost £400,000 per year. Based on figures from last year John Belcher, chief executive of Anchor (which provides affordable homes for the elderly) was paid £391,000. David Cowans at Places for People was paid £297,000 and at least six other bosses of housing associations pocketed more than £200,000.
Although independent, housing associations are largely funded by the taxpayer, receiving millions of pounds each year to provide housing for those unable to fend for themselves. Little did we realise that a good deal of the funding was being used to grossly overpay those in charge.This latest bombshell was uncovered by Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister, who described the pay packages as unacceptable. How right!
The published list is a long one. Even the lowest paid of the 51 executives named is paid £142,000 and the situation has clearly gone completely out of control. Mr Shapps said yesterday that there is no reason why housing charities who receive public money should be excempt from scrutiny. Vince Cable indicated that high earning public officials may have to accept pay cuts. Let us hope that he means it for an example is needed.
Predictably some have leapt to the defence of the pouring out of public money. The housing associations say that the salaries are necessary to attract executives of the highest calibre. Clearly they have drifted into fantasy land. Just where in the private sector would all these people go to earn such generous treatment? And the defenders of Civil Service fat cats are even more bizarre. Jonathan Baume, leader of the First Division Association, which represents senior civil servants, pointed out that ‘you have to remember that the Prime Minister’s salary has been held down for political reasons and David Cameron is a millionnaire’. What on earth does that have to do with anything, the rate for a job should not be based on the holders wealth or lack of it. As the Chief Executive of the UK the PM’s salary must surely be the highest paid.
The ferret breeders are usually somewhat isolated from the rest of the community. Suddenly even they are coming together in common cause with many who are looking for leadership. And they include many who work in public bodies and are paid very poorly!
Anger levels are rising.According to Spanish scientists who recently carried out tests on the effect of anger on the human body, a spot of rage is good for us. It stimulates that part of the brain associated with positive feelings, the left hemisphere. Thank heavens for that!
We in the allotment shed are becoming so outraged that I feared there would soon be orphaned ferrets galore!