Friday, 18 August 2017

My mother pride over my daughter's A level results



My daughter, Maelo Manning, obtained 2 A*s and 2As in her A level exams. Her first choice of university and course has been confirmed. It is to read 'Philosophy, Politics and Law' at King's College London.

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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Why is a 'jolly good fellow' always jolly?

A 'jolly old good fellow' by his Shepherd's Hut
It must be the 'silly season' i.e month of August otherwise why else would Jacob Rees-Mogg be the flavour of the moment when the mood is anti-Tory, anti-austerity and anti-jolly?


All stalwart Liberals/Lefties like me are weighed down with the worry of a nuclear war in the offing and Donald Trump's ill focus on the Governor of Guam becoming famous, ongoing austerity with no sign of lifting, climate change thanks to Al Gore's latest movie 'An Inconvenient Sequel' and escalating violence and rhetoric around racism.


There isn't anything to be jolly about and the very unjolly Polly Toynbee has struck the right note with her piece in The Guardian on Jacob Rees-Mogg, the current inheritor of the 'jolly good fellow' trophy. Jacob Rees-Mogg is one in a short line of recent such fellows, the others being Boris Johnsons and Nigel Farage. Before that, I can't quite remember the whole line of them, we had Kenneth Clarke, Alan Clark and, dare I say this, David Cameron.


All these men have at various stages been either overtly referred to as 'jolly good' men or been loosely bestowed with this title. What is the unifying factor? Quite obviously they are all white men, members of the Tory party or a pale imitation of it (UKIP) and rather well off.


By my reckoning, being jolly is a social divider.


The further up the social scale you are positioned the jollier you are. The lower down the ladder you are the harder it is to remain jolly and optimistic.


There you have it. Being rich allows you to be a 'jolly good fellow'. If you don't have to worry about how much next week's food shopping is going to cost because the kids are home all day during the summer, or about your child starting university next month and the hike in domestic expenditure that this will entail or about the cost of a day out to gawk at poor animals behind cages in what is called 'London Zoo' then you, frankly, can AFFORD to be jolly.


David Cameron is so jolly that he owns something called a 'Shepherd's Hut' priced at £25,000. Boris Johnson earned loads even if he has taken a pay cut. Kenneth Clarke smokes cigars and wears nice Brogues - rich. Alan Clark was someone I never liked and I can't be bothered to Google him to include a link but I do recall his comment about Michael Heseltine's furniture being new as opposed to being tatty because it was inherited. Nigel Farage was some sort of banker and always poses for photos grinning like there is no tomorrow.


Jacob Rees-Mogg seems to trump all the 'jolliers' though because he is obviously super wealthy to have had a nanny block his neck from the blistering sun by holding a book as a sun shield. I buy Factor 30 from Boots to block my daughter's neck. See the difference? I am not jolly. He is.


There is a serious purpose to this blog article and it is this - I am sick about the way jollity is used as a mask to portray the cruel and divisive political ideologue behind it. A smile, a laugh and a twinkle in the eye to win votes while all the while making a mockery of the gullible voter who falls for it all.


Boris Johnson used his 'jollity' as a lethal political weapon when he was standing for Mayor and during his stint as Mayor of London. More recently his jollity has been exhibited via jokes at the European Union's expense. Nothing jolly about this when you consider that he was a primary Brexiter who helped  peddle unproven facts like the £350 million a week that the UK will supposedly have.


I spent my journey into work this morning trying to work out how many 'jolly good' fellows I know. Three, readers, three. What does that say about my social mobility? Only one is a good friend, the other two attend my church whom I would term 'acquaintances'. All are White men who earn well over £150,000 which is the threshold for being a part of the 1%. I rest my case.  
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Monday, 14 August 2017

A tribute to Heather Heyer who died in Charlottesville

My tribute of flowers in memory of Heather Heyer



Heather Heyer was killed in Charlottesville while protesting against the racism of the Alt-Right. The  moment she was killed was the moment that racism had reached its nadir this year because she was fighting against something that by any normal and moral standards of decency is WRONG.

The Alt-Right exudes a privilege that it has no moral or legal right to lay claim to but, by dint of being of being born White, these knuckleheads think they are superior. They stoke fear and division and thrive on it because this is the only way that they are capable of demonstrating their so-called laughable 'strength'.

Heather Heyer was White too.

Her murder shows us that the Alt-Right's logic is no different to Jihadism which kills more Muslims in the Middle East than Westerners in the West. Unless you are a clone of theirs you are not on the 'right' side and are worthy of violence.

The Alt-Right created and enabled an environment in which one of their members killed an upright member of society who had made it a mission of hers to keep fighting for justice.




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Thursday, 10 August 2017

Sheffield goes for Gold with the hosting of the Special Olympics



About 2,600 athletes in Sheffield are leading the way in showing how sport is an inclusive event. These athletes from Scotland, Wales and England have learning disabilities and are celebrating a week of sporting achievement and glory in the city from 7 to 12 August 2017.


The 'Highland' team with their 'Highland Cow' mascot
I attended the opening ceremony and was blown away by the sheer energy and excitement of the participants. The 2012 Paralympics were instrumental in opening the nation's eyes  to the tremendous ability within sport to accommodate people with disability. The Sheffield games possibly carry on the legacy from the Paralympics but with a hugely important difference for the way it demonstrates the ability of ordinary people, both adults and children, to carry on this legacy of empowerment via sport.

Athletics taking place at Sheffield University Stadium
I was interviewed by BBC Radio Sheffield journalist, Jennifer Eels
If sport is about taking part, more centrally, rather than winning then every participant in the Special Olympics is a winner. Having said that the athletes who are winning medals are rightly proud of their achievements too but each participant demonstrates a personal perseverance and bodily endurance that is a constellation of the sparkling spirit that we associate with sport.

It is the largest sporting event in the UK held for people with learning disabilities and is hosted by Special Olympics Great Britain which is a country specific agency for Special Olympics, the world's largest sports organisation for disabled people.


A Dragon Dance display at the opening ceremony
Some participants are wheelchair bound
The events are free to watch and are taking place at various venues in Sheffield.
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Sunday, 6 August 2017

Nick Timothy blames sexism for Theresa May not getting enough credit for her policies

Any woman in any situation is a potential victim of sexism, granted, because sexism is a pervasive sickness that does not respect the woman or her position or her dignity. Having been a victim of sexism myself many, many times, like countless women around the world I bristle at sexism but I am bristling far more at what Nick Timothy had to say.

Nick Timothy, former joint Chief of Staff  to Prime Minister Theresa May, interviewed in a piece in theTelegraph, claimed "Mrs May had been a victim of “sexism” because some people in Westminster refused to give her credit for coming up with her own policies, preferring instead to believe that male advisers like him were behind them". 

It's a cynical and convenient use of a prejudice to spin a yarn to extricate his then boss, Theresa May, from the blame and shame that was heaped on her after the disastrous run at the general election by both the electorate and the Westminster bubble inhabitants. The electorate who voted for non-Tory parties at the general election very much blamed Theresa May for the policies.

While Nick Timothy's remarks only refer to "some people in Westminster...' it implies that these 'people'  overlooked Theresa May's good policy making skills and credited him, instead, with glory. Really? I recall days and days of opprobrium being heaped on both  Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill and Theresa May.  While the two aides were very much seen as a duo that backed Theresa May and advised her the PM was clearly seen as being the head of this working arrangement.

'Sexism' is never a trivial experience. It is designed to belittle and patronise the female victim. It comes in the guise of put-downs or slights. Nick Timothy exhibits male privilege in twisting this experience to serve his interests.

As a protest I am reclaiming 'sexism' as a humiliating experience that deserves the might of the law and society's disapproval from:
a. The clutches of those who live in gilded cages and bubbles where they can access their privileged networks to get lucrative jobs after making a hash job of their previous ones; and
b. Those who place new meaningless perspectives on the everyday personal experiences of ordinary women like me without power who have to take up real fights against sexist systems. 

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