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.


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.  

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.


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.

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. 


Friday, 4 August 2017

A Friday joke about working from home

Find your bare minimum and stick to it
Establish the least amount of work you can get away with per day and do not exceed it. For example, three emails and a colourful graph.

Do not forget that you have a job
24% of home workers can’t remember who they work for and what they are supposed to be doing.
Write your employer’s name and job title on a Post-It note and stick it to the wall above your computer – this is a vital reference tool.

Alternate internet and television
It’s easy to waste the day looking at Youtube clips of ghosts ‘caught on security camera’ and buying scarves. Every two hours, turn off the internet and turn on the television. 'Doctors' is quite good, also 'Real Housewives of Orange County'.

Perfect a ‘busy voice’
Working from home is all about self-justification, and key to this is pretending you’re busy. If anyone rings up, tell them you’re ‘up against it’ and ‘flat out’ in a deep, serious voice.

Work in intense bursts lasting 45 seconds
You can get more done in a sharp burst of under one minute than in a whole day spent in the office. For example, open a Word document in a really intense way. Then go and do something else.

If anyone tries to stop you working from home, mutter about ‘productivity’ and ‘creativity’
Sooner or later people will realise you’re dicking about. Fight your corner in true corporate style by looking upset, putting on a pathetic, whiny voice and saying some things that don’t make sense.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The toxic hyper masculine penis centred White House chaos

Apologies for the swear words contained in this post. I am mainly quoting what the White House staff have said.

The extreme levels of hyper masculine toxicity emanating from the White House would register danger levels if there was some sort of monitoring system in place to warn people about dickheads. Donald Trump has turned out to be a, metaphorically speaking, radioactive leader who leaves a trail of damage and destruction in his path.

The word 'bizarre' can't be used enough to describe the behaviour and actions of Trump and of those around him, predicated on some sort of Gorilla like chest beating Alpha male bollocks. This male dominated amateur theatrics, otherwise known as the Trump presidency, set in the White House, seems to centre on who can roar harder and louder.

References to penises using the word 'cock' have been flung around a fair bit and with such great ease that it only goes to show how comfortable these chaps are with exhibiting primate behaviour shorn of politeness, dignity and norms.

Anthony Scaramucci, the short lived White House Communications Director, ranted about Steve Bannon and told Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker, "I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,”...“I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country."

"Strength", what "strength"?

Steve Bannon, apparently, declined to comment. What could one say anyway to that sort of accusation- "Yes, I do that frequently" or "I am getting too old for that sort of thing these days"?

But, wait, Steve Bannon isn't blameless himself. He referred to Paul Ryan, speaker of the house, as a "limp-dick motherfucker". Are these men's brains situated in their dicks? How is it possible to have a "limp dick" and f... anyone at all?

This chaos within the White House is an extension of the brainless behaviour that took place during Trump's campaign. He repeatedly referred to the size of his hands as an indicator of the size of his manhood. The signs were there and the much maligned 'liberals' were alert to it. Some of his voters, however, believed that once elected Trump would, somehow, shoehorn himself into the role. The GOP were foremost in feeding voters this line.

Six months on there is a child in the White House, sitting at the Oval Office desk, who is 'throwing' his shoes and the shoehorn at the world. He hasn't done a thing yet to justify winning the Presidency. Instead, his family have benefitted from their association with the White House. Families have been ripped apart. The 'deplorables' who are Zombie-like hero worshippers hang onto Trump's every action and word even though these are proven time and time again to be dick-twiddling empty gestures.


Friday, 28 July 2017

Ideas to blast your writer's block away

Being a blogger is fun because you get to write about an issue or topic of your choosing when you want. Ideas abound everywhere and all it takes is imagination and natural curiosity to spot the potential for a blog post in, both, normal everyday situations and the big situations in life.The best bit about blogging is, for me anyway, that I have complete control over the point of view that I take.

As an example, when I blogged about 'Love Island' a few days ago  the angle I took was about the parent and child interaction which interested me as opposed to the hundreds of articles written about the body beautiful contestants. Granted the latter was probably more newsworthy because the millions of viewers who watched 'Love Island' can't have been sitting down just for views of trees swaying in the wind. 

But bloggers are able to bring their own experience and interest to bear which adds to the diversity of opinions in circulation.

It's all great going till you hit the wall of writer's block. Don't believe any blogger who tells you otherwise. It comes to all of us like a big black cloud that will not budge. Do you wait till it passes or do you fight back? If you choose to fight back how do you do this?

My well thumbed personal copy
I have discovered a whole list of great ideas to bust writer's block in 'The Million Dollar Blog' book by Natasha Courtenay-Smith. Chapter 7 in the book titled 'Content Creation' is all about the constant need to generate ideas that can spark off blog posts and the freeing up of one's ability to think up ideas. Recognise the following scenario which Natasha describes in the chapter?

"It's a new day. You're sitting at your computer, all fired up. You begin to type today's blog post-and you freeze. The screen remains depressingly blank as you feel your anxiety levels rising-you've got to write something, but what?"

Natasha, the author, lists what she refers to as "tricks" to unblock creative thought. These are:

1. Research your readers. Diving into your readers' worlds is important in coming up with blog posts that will help you connect with them. Using Google's keyword planner and Google's Trend tool to search for specific words and phrases will give you a valuable insight into what your readers are looking for.

2. Using surveys on social media to directly reach out to your followers to ask them what they would like to read or suggesting topics and asking them for their views on whether these would interest them as readers.

3. Look at what your competitors are blogging about. What have they written that catches your eye and can you rewrite this using your own voice and point of view? Caveat - don't plagiarise and offer something different in tone and substance.

4. Write about what you think about. We all have a myriad of ideas that flash through our brains every day. The trick is to capture these in words via a blog post.

5. Write about what other people ask you. Are you an agony aunt in your personal life to family and friends? Could you write about the problems that you are asked to help out with?

6. Hijack the news by looking at news websites, magazines, newspapers for ideas that you could give an opinion on.

7. While most ideas have been written about and rehashed a million times it does not mean that a fresh view cannot be offered.

The list above is a paraphrasing of what is set out in the book. It's a book worth reading in full, by the way.

The strategy I employ is to cut out articles, op-eds and even pictures from newspapers that I can refer to for ideas.

My source of idea
It would be great to hear from other bloggers about tactics they use to blast writer's block.


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The parents of the Love Island contestants were, well,'normal'

The producers of Love Island staged a coup of sorts when they invited the parents of the remaining contestants onto the show because it was a game changer. The show went from being a voyeuristic visual of flesh, cleavage and sex to one injected with a sense of warmth and charm. 

Those objects of lust, entertainment and trivia, otherwise known as the contestants, were cast in a different light all of a sudden and it was fascinating watching them interact with their parents.

If I had stopped to think about what sort of parent would condone their child going on a programme like 'Love Island', which I hadn't, I probably would have been quite judgemental in the way that Piers Morgan was on 'Good Morning Britain'.  I am one of those mothers who would balk at the thought of my daughter ever even vaguely thinking about applying to go on 'Love Island'.

The thought of her hanging out on a TV set dressed in bikini after bikini would cause me no end of worry because she would be nothing more than a binary object of either lust or ridicule to viewers. There doesn't seem to be a half-way house with the women contestants. 

Also, I do rate academic qualifications very highly, perhaps too much so, and this is in no small part due to my cultural upbringing. 

However, I did feel challenged by the way in which the parents were able to tease out their children's strengths and accomplishments and do it in a way that was akin to textbook parenting i.e be supportive unconditionally. I can't say that I could have done the same.

Granted there was some soft telling off about sex in front of the cameras but, overall, it was pretty impressive parenting.

This episode of 'Love Island' was fascinating because, up till then, I had hardly watched the series and had, from the trailers shown, assumed it to be numero uno trivial nonsense that artificially talked up the benefits of being shallow. Placing all this in a paradise like setting was something that I disagreed with for the false sense of 'success' that it sold to young people.

While I still think that some of this is true, I did find much that was entertaining and heart warming.

Ironically I had only tuned in to watch it while waiting for a political programme to come on. My daughter, whom I frequently blog about, would describe this as a typical situation. Instead, I was engrossed waiting for the next set of parents to come on to find out what it was that they were proud of. Kudos to them and I am not the only one who found it all quite touching.

I can't say that I am a 'Love Island' convert but I won't be knocking it as much as I have and I won't accuse my daughter of wasting her time if she chooses to watch it again next year.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Every Lib Dem member ought to fight the ageism against Vince Cable

Vince Cable is 74. To put that into context, the retirement age for people who are now in their fifties is 67. Given the low rates of wage growth many will probably have to work beyond that. Pensioners are seen as a prize political grab when it comes to votes. Donald Trump (I can't stand him just for the record), Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are closer to Vince in age.

Politics, historically, was the domain of older men. Lord Palmerston was 70 years old when he was appointed in 1855. William Gladstone was 82 years old when appointed in 1892. It is only in recent decades that younger people have taken up prime political positions with Justin Trudeau, 45, and Emanuel Macaron, 39, being cases in point but the political age pendulum has hardly swung firmly in their favour. Jeremy Corbyn, who is riding high in the polls, is 68 and the clamour for him to be Prime Minister is not being mitigated in any shape or form by his age.

Yet the age detractors are never far away. Vince is often ridiculed on social media for being, well, 'old'. See below as an example.

While all prejudices are largely irrational there is something particularly so about ageism. There is the philosophical argument that we can't be against something that will befall us all at some stage. There is the economic argument that people need to be working well past the age that our grandparents retired at, 55, to plug holes in the pension system. I am no economist but, surely, having more people pay tax no matter their age must make for some economic sense. 

Age UK provided written evidence to the Public Service and Demographic Change Committee for a report in 2013 on ageing. In response to the question, 'Does our culture about age and its onset need to change, and if so, how?' Age UK had this to say: "Age discrimination is a major barrier and remains too prevalent. Older age is too often mocked and there is still too much explicit age discrimination in both the public and the private sectors. We are clear that the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty are hard won legislation and essential cornerstones for future progress."
Given all this it is fair to say that ageism is a particularly illogical 'ism' in the field of prejudices. What is the threshold for ageism to kick in? When grey hairs appear? When people have grandchildren? What about people who grey prematurely? 'Old age' has become a contested term and is a subjective concept.

Judge Vince Cable on his leadership and political stance but not on his age. Ageism is a sick malaise in society and we, as party members, ought to defend Vince against such nonsense.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

I need to get fit and have found an exercise video to kickstart my day

This is a great set of exercises to start the day with if you haven't done any in a while like me. Give it a go.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Vince Cable was in stonking form at his first Lib Dem event as leader

Sir Vince Cable and Jo Swinson at the 'welcome the leader' event in Central London 

Sir Vince Cable was in great form at his first 'outing' as leader of the Liberal Democrat party. In Vince style he was calm, assured and completely realistic about the challenges facing the party when he launched his leadership manifesto.

He demonstrated a steadying hand which is just what the party needs post-election when it did not reap the dividends that it had hoped for from the pro-Europe campaign stance that it took during the election. There were no surprise announcements as such but Vince's manifesto distinctly marks a move away from the party's stand of rolling back the state's role through austerity measures when he was part of the coalition government.

Me, Jane Chelliah, with Sir Vince Cable
In contrast, the leadership manifesto states, "We need properly funded and effective public services..".

A bigger role for the state will be situated in the centrist ground. "The middle ground has been vacated", he said, while "zealots" in British politics were positioned on the left as being "anti-business" and on the right as being "anti-Europe". No pressure there then in a political landscape which is very much divided between right and left.

Interestingly, Vince uses the word 'ambitious' quite prominently in his manifesto and in doing so subtly sets out the challenge that the party faces from either side of the political spectrum. With Jeremy Corbyn riding high in the polls and the Prime Minister receiving the strong backing of the 1922 Backbench Committee to shore up her position the middle ground is being squeezed.

However, there is much to play for over Brexit. Vince spoke about how Brexit is heading for a disaster and cited the Euratom issue as evidence of Tory dislocation from the reality. He warned that this "wonderful organisation" is in danger of being completely derailed from the Brexit fall out. As expected, he spoke about the folly of pulling out of the single market and praised the EU for successful policy making especially over environmental and security issues.

Speaking alongside Vince was Jo Swinson in her new role as deputy leader of the party. Some issues of importance to her, which she articulated, were to increase the ethnic membership of the party and about making new members feel involved. As a woman of colour it was rather encouraging that the lack of diversity is receiving the recognition that it ought to have done some time ago in the party.

Me, Jane Chelliah, with Jo Swinson
I sometimes do wonder about the party's ability to capture the mood of the moment. Jo was asked a question about the 2018 local elections and, somewhere in her answer, she referred to empowering local communities and people to help themselves. In the context of what is happening at Grenfell following the fire it is quite obvious that local councils have a big role to play that cannot be understated in ensuring that their citizens receive a good level of service. Witness the way the residents of the borough of Kensington & Chelsea have criticised the local authority for not doing enough and their call for better services. 

Vince predicts that the party will win a good number of seats in the 2018 local election and that we can be optimistic about increasing the number of MPs taking seats at the next general election. If Brexit carries on being a disaster I reckon he will be proven right.    

Monday, 17 July 2017

George Turner uncovers "financial mismanagement" in Lambeth where he stood against Kate Hoey

If ever there was a tenacious embodiment of the Lib Dem spirit that never gives up it is George Turner who stood against Kate Hoey in Lambeth. He increased the Lib Dem vote share through running an outstanding campaign based on giving Lambeth citizens better representation on Brexit issues against Kate Hoey, an arch Brexiter. Lambeth has not seen the last of George.

He is part of a group of local residents who have undertaken a 'People's Audit' of Lambeth Borough's accounts and the extent of failings and mismanagement that they have uncovered makes one wonder just how it is that colossal amounts of money is being frittered away by councils.

If the austerity cuts weren't enough in failing to give people proper access to public services unnecessary financial overspend and mismanagement at local council level severely further compounds the burden of cuts.

After the Grenfell tragedy, it is now apparent that recipients of poor public services suffer the most and, in extreme cases, stand to lose their lives. Set within a context of a heightened awareness of how local councils break their social contracts with their borough's residents, this report makes for a shocking read.

The report alleges that Lambeth council has overpaid building contractors for work on council estates, found an 'appearance' of price-fixing in building contracts, that there was a lack of oversight on what it spent, high compensatory costs for disrepair, the cost of refurbishing Lambeth town hall was doubled, council assets were sold below market value, inconsistency over salary and redundancy levels and a lack of transparency over contracts to do with Greenwich Leisure Limited.

It is quite clear that another layer of governance, if that is the right word, that lacks transparency, accountability and financial prudency exists at local level. Is it costing us less teachers, less hospital staff, library closures? I am no accountant but I am quite sure that I am not far wrong in guessing what it is that people are losing out on.


Sunday, 9 July 2017

The parallel universe of the Labour Party

The most surreal of experiences occur in the most unlikely of places. I have had that sort of day. Fabian Conferences are always a political highlight for me and, much as I enjoyed the summer conference, I couldn’t help but feel that I was caught up in a parallel universe. To cut to the chase, anyone from another planet or, why go that far, from another political party would have been rather more jubilant at their party’s election performance if Labour’s results had been theirs.

The Conservative party who have the ability to spin without feeling giddy would, if the roles had been reversed, have been swigging Dom Perignon and thumping tables. The Lib Dems would have had members crying into their Guardian newspaper which always seems wedded to their hands by the way. The Labour Party? You should have been at the Fabian Conference to believe it. Even the 1922 Backbench scary as hell committee were more jubilant about the Tory Party’s dismal performance at the election.

By stark contrast the Labour MPs (not all) who graced the stage in the auditorium at the Fabian conference were a few steps away from being lachrymose. The sense of elation felt by voters over the party’s success had clearly not transferred itself over to the party’s MPs. By the end of the conference I was utterly confused and wondered if my usual political instincts had reached its’ sell by date.

Not so. I looked at Twitter on the way out and a new YouGov poll for The Times has put Labour 8 points ahead of the Conservative Party. To add to the confusion Corbyn had been making headlines today for his visit to the Durham Miners’ parade.

This is the reality of the two halves of the Labour Party. One celebrates Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party and fully recognises his ability to win voters over. The other treats Corbyn as if he were the elephant OUT of the room. Any hopes of the party coming together with a shared plan to beat the Tory party were not evident at the conference. Yes, there is a shared will to win the next election but a will has to be converted into action and it is clear that some factions of the party are as determined as they were before to not play ball.

The most disappointing bit of the conference for me was Yvette Cooper’s keynote address. While she did speak about Labour’s “strong and stable leadership” there was no overt acknowledgement or even a nod in the direction of Corbyn's rise to success. There was something missing from her speech and it was this, a failure to capture where Labour stands with the electorate. How does a party move forward when it seems to have disdain for its’ own success?

This is a party comprised of one half willing the leader to reach greater heights and the other half stubbornly clinging to a centrist position because, regardless of the evidence, it has artificially constructed a narrative that assumes victory is for the taking if only the party could replicate its’ path to power under Blair.

Come to think of it Blair was the elephant in the room while Corbyn was the elephant out of the room.

I attended the panel session on ‘Future Left: What next for Labour?’ which featured Owen Jones. As usual Owen was spot on with his analysis: “Labour gave people a vision. That is why people voted for them.” He went on to say that what the Labour party offered in 2015 was not good enough but that Corbyn understands the “spirit of the times in the way Thatcher did”.
Ann Pettifor, Director of Policy Research in Macroeconomics, who was a speaker on a different panel set some context around voter’s intentions when she said that the electorate was ahead of politicians in setting the political agenda. She cited tuition fees as one example of what worries the electorate. Clearly then Corbyn was right to offer huge concessions on tuition fees.

All said and done I fear that the two halves of the Labour Party will not be converging in the way that it was hoped they would. I can’t think of a reality that would summarise the Blairites stance and can only make up an analogy with, say, the Rotary Club suddenly being besieged by people wanting to join it but turning them all away because they weren’t the ‘right types’; or a local cricket club winning the season and returning the cup because the players who played well weren’t their cup of tea.
I don't think I am wrong in saying that Labour voters will not be forgiving if internal division chips away at the party's electoral success.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

A man who posts a photo of his ex girlfriend's vagina in a retaliatory spat is a TWAT

Rob Kardashian is a first class TWAT and a man-child quite obviously for the way he has retaliated against his ex-girlfriend, Blac Chyna, who is also the mother of his child. Rob, brother of Kim Kardashian and Kyle Jenner, posted a photo of Chyna's vagina on Instagram. It has since been reposted on Twitter.

This is revenge porn at the very least and on a scale of misogynistic acts this ranks quite high up.

The photo was obviously sent to him originally as an act of intimacy between him and Chyna. A reading of a very boring string of rants by the man-child quickly reveals a depth of immaturity which makes one think that people ought to sit a test of maturity before becoming a parent. The pair have a child, a daughter, called Dream. So, Rob has spent all day demeaning the mother of his child. To redeem his sense of pompous masculinity he writes that he wants/hopes his daughter will read all this one day to understand how depraved her mother is.

Rob plays a high stakes game of parenthood because it is very likely that Dream will wonder about her father's sanity.

Rob Kardashian, Blac Chyna with their baby called Dream

The whole thing is damn ugly and reeks of a bad case of misogyny. Clearly designed to portray himself as a caring partner he accuses her of being ungrateful because he spent $250,000 on jewellery and $100,000 on cosmetic surgery. How about being grateful Rob that Chyna has given you a daughter?

It's the default line isn't it for an immature misogynist to resort to the consumerism that transpired in his relationship and to use it as a sword to swing against the woman? The implicit message being "I spent x amount on you so you owe me your undying loyalty no matter how I behave".

I don't care myself for celebrity gossip but Rob's story which was trending on Twitter caught my eye for the rampant sexism that is threaded right through his ugly rants. Veiled references are made to Chyna previously (allegedly) being a stripper and his own largesse at accepting her despite it all. Again, the implicit message being "I was good enough to take you in and let you be part of my life despite what you did". He goes on to then beat himself up over how naïve he was.

Has it occurred to Rob that, apart from his surname, he looks like your ordinary bloke who works in the mail room? Also, isn't this the same Rob who was vastly massively overweight at one time? No hope there then that his ego went on a diet with him too.


Sunday, 2 July 2017

A proud Mama weekend

If I had a visual to describe the amazing day that I had yesterday, Saturday, it would be of all my Christmas treats for years to come given to me at once while sitting on a Caribbean beach with a steel band playing close by. The incongruity of this image conveys the two images of my daughter's day which I was privileged to be a part of.

It was prize giving day in the morning and my daughter's prom at night. In one day I saw my daughter play two roles: a successful student taking delight in her achievement; and, later, as a confident grown up young lady celebrating the end of school by letting her hair down.

A few days ago I blogged about her leaving school and the sadness that I felt. By contrast, yesterday was a day of celebration. Maelo was awarded the 'John Iberson Memorial Prize' (named after a special teacher at the school who died in 1989) for best A Level Student. It is an award for academic excellence. 

The award ceremony was an especially poignant one for me because soon after Maelo started school she was diagnosed with a condition that is neither Dyslexia or Dyspraxia but is a combination of both. She and I worked really hard to help her overcome difficulties with handwriting, number writing and the ability to comprehend and follow instructions. She was labelled 'difficult' many times. After being diagnosed she received therapy at the age of 5 and there she was yesterday, aged 17, receiving the biggest prize awarded to a sixth former.

Hours later she was dressed up for her Prom and it was a thrilling experience for me to watch her and her friends get ready and be part of the youthful exuberance and excitement that characterised Maelo's spirit.


Tuesday, 27 June 2017

A letter to my daughter on her last day of school

My daughter finishes the last of her A level exams today. Her school years have come to an end. I am feeling sad but then I have always been a sentimental mush of a mum. There is so much I want to say to her and I am making this letter public because there must be hundreds of mums around the country this week feeling similar angst.

My Dearest Maelo,
I remember the day you started school at the age of 4. I cried buckets in the lead up to you starting school and cried all day long while you were there on your first day. I wondered how I would feel when you left school one day and that day has come. I have so much to say and my thoughts are jumbled.

Firstly, you know that I will be crying when you walk through the gates for the last time today. This time it will be tears of joy unlike the first time when I felt utter sadness at being separated from you. Then I feared for what the education system would throw at you and that you would be swallowed up by a whole system that left no space for a life at home. Today I will be crying because you have grown, both, academically and personally in the most wonderful of ways.

Those 14 years have always felt like a shared journey. When you started at reception I struggled with balancing work and looking after you even though I worked part-time. Some days I had panic attacks because it all seemed overwhelming. I remember one evening particularly well. We got home and I got into bed with a massive panic attack. You were only 4 and said. "Mama, I am scared". I couldn't get out of bed. You dragged a stool over to the sink and stood on it to get me a glass of water. I was so afraid that you would fall over. Soon after things got better. I am glad that you don't remember that episode because it shows that we made progress.

The first thing we used to do after getting home was to get out a pack of cards or have a picnic in our garden when the weather was good. In winter we watched The Simpsons on TV before tackling homework. Wasn't that a drag but it had to be done!

As the years progressed I not so much as helped you with your studies but also learnt from you. Having never studied British history myself I would listen to you teaching me.  When you reached Year 7 I gave up on helping you with your maths and Science. It was beyond me and you would tease me about my ignorance. I appreciate though how you still sought my advice on  methods of study and choice of question to answer on your project work. We worked as a partnership and still do.

Friends started to fill your time up when you hit your teens. I struggled with this. Suddenly my daughter was not with me at the weekends but it was a joy to see you branching out and carving a place in the world for yourself. Still, your teenage years were a particular challenge to my Asian upbringing. There I was thinking that I had overcome any cultural barriers by bringing up a mixed race daughter but I was wrong. Your skirts were too short, you were going out too much, parties were distractions from your studies and you needed to spend more time cleaning up your room. Most of the time I was right (smug mother) but I acknowledge that I gave you hell unnecessarily some times. I am sorry.

As you have grown up you have become more aware of your mixed race heritage. Being a mixed race child isn't easy I know. You have struggled with conflicting cultural messages and sometimes these have required you to choose right over fun. I don't know whether this has made you a better person. Only time will tell. In the meantime please don't post photos of yourself falling over drunk on Facebook for fear of upsetting my 500 Asian relatives and bringing shame on the family. I can imagine you laughing at this line because you are constantly amazed at how many relatives I have. The funniest moments, for me, that stem from you being mixed race is when you see photos of Asian girls doing 'unAsian' things and exclaim, "Even I know not to do that". When push comes to shove I would put you first above straitlaced Asian values.

We did have some genuinely difficult times like when your father was diagnosed with skin cancer and we had to tell you about it the day you finished your GCSE exams because he had to go to hospital the next day. My heart broke seeing you cry. Your dearest cousin was diagnosed with leukaemia last year. You asked me whether we were cursed. No, we aren't cursed at all. These things happen and, thankfully, both are on the mend now. I have taught you to look at the positive in life while paying attention to the realities of life and I hope you will always remember to view life in a balanced way.

Maelo, you are my heart and my joy. When you leave school after your exam today remember that you have truly done your best in all ways. I look forward to being a part of your next journey as you prepare for life at university. I am thankful that you will be living at home. I am still a mush mum and would have cried crater loads if you had moved away not to mention that your cat would have fared even worse. Dad would have taken to drinking more milk. Neither of us are big alcohol drinkers and it has always made me chuckle when you gasp in amazement at people having more than one glass of alcohol.

Remember your values borne from being a Christian, a citizen of the world, a child of immigrants and a product of being mixed race. Always fight injustice when you see it. Never become right wing. Continue to remember those who have helped you along the way.

The saying that "it takes a village to raise a child" is certainly true in your case. Being a child of immigrants you have had input from friends and relatives across the world. Your aunty, cousins, uncle and 'adopted' uncles from Wales, Ireland and New Zealand wait for news about your accomplishments and help to pick you up when you fall. People in the neighbourhood still refer to you as the 'baby' and those at church are praying for your success.

Go and conquer the world now kiddo.

Lots of love
P/S Can we please stop watching reruns of 'Father Ted'? I hear that 'Love Island' is very popular.


Thursday, 22 June 2017

Make up lessons from a savvy 9 year old vlogger-Minnie Mimi

'Minnie Mimi' is a young sassy 9 year old vlogger giving make up lessons. She is also my lovely niece and I am proud of her creative nature. Watch this space for more coming your way.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Three pivotal moments that seem to have defined Theresa May and they aren't good

The search for answers as to why Theresa May performed so spectacularly badly goes on and will, no doubt, continue to be debated and analysed. In my opinion there were three pivotal moments in the 7 week campaign and these occurred quite close together which led to the Prime Minister's rapid decline in the polls which translated into a crash on election day.

1. On 15 May Cathy, a woman with learning disabilities, confronted Theresa May and told her that she wanted her Disability Living Allowance back and that she wanted someone to help her because she didn't have a carer. Mrs May's response about how much the government was doing for 'mental health' issues clearly demonstrated that she had not grasped the basics of what constituted mental health and what learning disabilities were. Coming across as a Prime Minister who was clearly out of touch, to quote a cliché, she further never gave assurances that welfare benefits would not further be cut.

2.  On 2 June, during a BBC leaders' Q&A, the Prime Minister was asked by a nurse in the audience whether she (the PM) was able to sleep well while NHS staff had to use Foodbanks because of the cap on public sector pay. Theresa May answered that 'there were many complex reasons" and that hard choices” had to be made across the public sector. She further told the nurse that there was no 'magic tree' for pay rises.  Twitter was soon seeing angry tweets about how £435 billion was produced through Quantitative Easing (QE) to save the banks. Others took umbrage at public sector workers being asked to make sacrifices while large corporations escaped having to pay their full liability of taxes.

3. A young woman who had waited 18 months for an NHS appointment over mental health issues told the Prime Minister about the harsh treatment that she had received during a fitness to work assessment. The young woman alleged that she was insulted and that no compassion was shown towards a previous attempt that she had made to commit suicide.

Things don't seem to be getting better post election. Following the fire at Grenfell Tower Mrs May made two visits - one to speak to the emergency services and the other to patients being treated in hospital for fire effects. Both times she did NOT excel and was booed for not interacting with the crowds gathered who consisted of people who had to flee their flats in Grenfell Tower.

What is going on with her? My firm belief is that the Tory government are absolute slaves to the ideology of Neoliberalism and will not deviate from it even if it strips them of their humanity in the most wretched of circumstances.