"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"
"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"
Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/
"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"
Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/
Monday, 9 December 2013
I love a well decorated house. But a decorating house elf would be very welcome:
The Christmas Trees:
For many years Elizannie and Other Half bought 'real' Christmas Trees until persuaded that this was not a good idea ecologically and also by the amount of tidying up caused by pine needles resulting in anti-social behaviour and language on the part of Elizannie. Also a visitor finding pine needles under the furniture in October was slightly embarrassing. And the year when 90% of the pine needles had fallen by Christmas Day sent us out on the day after Boxing Day to buy a 'really good' artificial tree in the sales. Which we decorated and put in the place of the ailing real tree before Youngest Daughter came home from her boyfriend's the next day, much to her bewilderment.
But as usual this year, I forgot the routine for removing the Christmas trees [we also have a fibre optic one for the porch. Love it] from their year round hidey holes. They live in the wardrobe at the far corner of the yellow bedroom. And the doors open in such a way that one cannot remove the trees lengthwise, but they must be levered out at a sort of angle [45 degrees is the optimum] as one door is opened, then reverse the angle of the tree boxes [roughly 63.5] to enable closure of that door and opening of the other. Then, as the wjole boxes emerge slide them CAREFULLY along toward the room door, perform a three point turn around the end of the bed, and slide boxes out into the landing. Once the trees have been removed from boxes a sort of reverse process takes place to put them back into the wardrobe, whole thing to be repeated on 12th night.
Luckily the fibre optic tree fits together quite easily and as long as the transformer has been put away in the right place that is soon up and running. The tree for the lounge is more problematic, a bit more like a 3D jigsaw, and an alphabet puzzle all at once. If the wrongly lettered branches are slotted into the wrong level the result resembles a giant lavatory brush so extreme caution must be taken. And if the basic error of putting the lights on first has been made, no matter how artistic the arrangement of the tree decorations they all have to come off and a re-start employed... And surely those lights worked last year. We wouldn't have put away dud ones, would you?
Oh the decorations! They live in the loft of course. And the boxes/suitcases in which they abide of course have grown during the year and the loft hatch is again inhospitable.... Other Half is not encouraged by Elizannie not being able to remember how many containers there are in the loft, and her insistance that there must be more 'up there' and his fruitless search, only to be told that 'O, I remember now, I threw those decorations away last year' bring forth an unseasonable response.
But opening the tree decorations is a mini festival! All those tacky, beautiful home made ones, even some Other Half made at junior school. Those which represent 'stages' of the children's interests: Disney films, nursery rhymes etc. The lovely nativity scenes bought at various cathedrals around the country. All so valuable whether bought in Harrods or homemade. Sugar canes to commemorate Canadian and American friends and relatives. Some decorations with their greetings in Welsh. Plenty bearing the word 'Peace' - surely the most important of Christmas wishes. The angel on the top to remind us of all those who have gone ahead of us. And if one can rope in a few children to help dress the tree, all the better. [I am not advocating tying the children to the tree but to hang the decorations onto the tree] And if you hear me humming 'O, Christmas Tree' - actually it is really 'The Red Flag' - the tune is the same....
Photograph of a different style of 'Christmas tree' courtesy:
My only connection to this company is my greed.....
Friday, 6 December 2013
There are too many brilliant and much better obituaries to Nelson Mandela on the web already for me to try and compete. But I can't not say something about the passing of this wonderful man, not when I spend so many hours and virtual print complaining about the selfish and uncaring citizens in society.
The photo above shows Mandela in 1990, not long after he had been released from his Robben Island prison in February of that year, the last of his confinement since 1963 when he had been sentenced to life for sabotage.
His life events are easy to find. As his so many inspiring speeches and quotations from these are easy to find [indeed there is one at the bottom of this blog!] He even passed into popular culture with the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert aka Free Nelson Mandela concert at Wembley in 1988 which was broadcast to nearly 70 countries [and btw which we watched on a tiny TV in an equally tiny caravan in Portsmouth!] And there was a story line on 'East Enders' in the early 90s when one of those cheeky Mitchell boys bought a job lot of cheap t-shirts to sell on, only to find they were emblazoned with 'Free Nelson Mandela' when he was already free.....
But Mandela was an icon and an inspiration to so many for his persistance, courage and his capacity for forgiveness.
I try to be a good person but unfortunately fall short too much of the time! Witness this morning, listening to all the tributes from politicians from all sides of the political spectrum to Mandela, and there I was thinking of various of the right wing variety 'Aha, that's not what you said when Mandela was locked up and 'my' side was campaigning to get him released. There were even suggestions from you/your side that he should be hanged not released'. And then dear Ken Livingstone came onto the radio and when the presenter put that very point to him, he just laughed and said '... well, Mandela would not have held a grudge!' and I instantly realised I have a long way to go before I can be 'nice' let alone 'good'...... And when the same presenter put the fact to Livingstone that Mandela's party, before he had been imprisoned, had been involved in civil unrest and violence which is why the then South African Authorities felt 'justified' in locking him and his comrades up, Ken Livingstone suggested that if the positions had been reversed perhaps Mandela's jailers would have used the same methods when they had no other way to express their claims for rights: no votes, no powers at all - pacifist me found myself nodding along.
In South Africa, citizens are celebrating Nelson Mandela's life. Here people are gathering outside South Africa House and queuing to sign the book of condolence at St Margaret's, Westminster. We are so lucky to have lived in this man's lifetime.
No one is born hating another person because of the
colour of his skin or his background, or his religion.
People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate,
they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally
to the human heart than its opposite.From A Long Walk to Freedom
Photo of Mandela 1990, courtesy of AFP
Tuesday, 3 December 2013
I often 'use' something I have read on twitter or facebook, or something heard in the early morning news as a kickstart to a blog but today the 'inspiration' for my blog is a small carving which I photographed [badly] in Glastonbury yesterday.
It is a late 15thC carving of a betrothed couple which is on a medieval building thought to be near the spot where public betrothals took place. Although Other Half and I have spent very many hours in Glastonbury and were confident we knew a lot about the area and its history, pride comes before a fall and all that and we had never seen this lovely little carving. But yesterday morning when we were in St John's Church in the town and chatting to a couple of officials about engagements and weddings and then onto betrothals and the meaning of betrothals in earlier times, the subject of this carving came up and we were sent along to look at it!
In medieval times a betrothal was as binding as a marriage. Indeed any sort of promise was considered as binding. In a time when many could not read or write a spoken word had to be considered binding.
When did this change? Well the engagement/betrothal bit probably in the 19th/20th centuries although 'Breach of Promise' legal cases were still being heard in the law courts in the 1930s. And I was brought up in the 1950s by my mother that if I broke a promise I would go to hell, but I think that even then that was a tad old-fashioned and certainly rather harsh!
But what about in the 21st century? Maybe not promises but that over used politicians word 'pledges'. There is an example of the 'broken Tory pre-election pledges' doing the rounds on twitter and facebook at the moment:
A Tory Pledge = What-we-say-when-we-want-to-get-into-power-but-please-don't-believe-it statement. [Elizannie]
Election Manifesto promises/pledges are of course regularly broken by incoming governments - they can always employ the caveat that 'the last government' left too many problems for us to be able to carry out that particular reform/benefit/improvement/funding [delete as necessary]' But other declarations made at the beginning of one parliamentary term are often reneged upon by the end of that term. Especially, I would suggest, by this coalition government. And the London Mayor - Boris Johnson - regularly makes pledges about things over which he has no power but which sound really good as a sound bite. But when pinned down - as he was on LBC radio's Nick Ferrari show this morning - and asked something about which he should know as it is within his responsibility - in this case tube fares - he often shows an ignorance which, imo, displays an arrogance. [He also flunked some IQ questions on the show which on the back of his controversial speech last week has caused many humourous comments on twitter]
And of course my comrades in Visteon Pensioners Action Group know exactly what is like to have promises reneged upon so that they are now having to take their former employer to the High Court [with the help of the Unite union] in an attempt to get those promises fulfilled. Many other employees of many other companies, both large and small, will empathise unfortunately.
So the point of this blog? Well perhaps:
- Politicians should try not to promise that which they are not absolutely confident they can fulfill
- We should treat all promises, especially those from politicians and employers with great caution
- Never think you know all about a well loved place!
- As a society we should be prepared to learn from the past that a promise, pledge etc is inviolable and not to be given lightly
Monday, 11 November 2013
Over the past few days leading up to Remembrance Day I have taken part in many discussions/debates - virtual and real - about white versus red poppies [with a detour about purple poppies], pacifism, whether one can honour the dead and afflicted of all conflicts without wearing any poppy, whether shops should be open before the two minute silence of Remembrance Sunday and more. At times I found myself getting upset, at times verging on anger [not an emotion that I wish to feel] that some of my fellow debaters seem to almost wilfully misunderstand my views.
But one group of 'veterans' is too often forgotten and I am as guilty of this as the rest, but should feel more shame. This group is the Conscientious Objectors, those who refused to bear arms 'for their country' due to their strongly held principles, but could not always convince the tribunals who tried their cases that they should be exempt from military service.
The photograph above shows my parents around 1939, the year of their marriage. As a married woman my mother was exempt from military service but was along with my father, a Conscientious Objector. My father had to appear before a tribunal and, as I understood it, had his appeal for exemption rejected because he would not rule out that he would refuse to fight in every war but stated as he had worked so hard for peace in the years before 1939 he could not in all honesty fight in this war. Again, as I understood it, he was eventually, if not totally exempted, allowed to not 'join up' as long as he retained his job which was considered to be a kind of reserved profession, a journalist [ 'alternative civillian service']
I know that the two of them went through many heart breaks and much heartsearching during the war. Both had brothers and cousins in the military and both worked with voluntary organisations in war aid efforts. I think of them every remembrance day and am so glad that they and their comrades are honoured at Tavistock Square, London on Remembrance Day every year.
To read more about Conscientious Objectors and their stories in World War I click the link here and for World War II here.
Thursday, 7 November 2013
Its almost a tradition that I write a Remembrance Day blog. Not what I intended when I wrote the first one in 2010. Or the next in 2011. Or the one in 2012. And I definitely wasn't going to do it this year, but once again there has been so much discussion in the media about the wearing or not of red poppies and in political forums about the terrible principles of those who do not - or even worse wear white poppies - that I felt I had a bit more to add.
The lovely photograph above, although blurred in the copying, was sent to us from one of Other Half's relatives in Canada last night. It is of his Uncle Harry who was killed in WW2 in Belgium. We have never seen this picture before and it is therefore very precious to us, blurred or not. And that is what Remembrance Day should surely be all about. Remembering those who died or were affected in whatever conflict, on whatever side and whenever. And for us as Pacifists working toward Peace so that waste will never happen again, and that all the Uncle Harrys in future will live and meet their nephews, nieces, great nephews and nieces and great-great nephews and nieces. This Uncle Harry never met his descendants - but they still remember him and have talked about him all their lives.
Also this year my family will additionally mourn the passing this August of my lovely Uncle Ron who was taken prisoner of war at the Battle of Arnhem which left him with emotional battle scars. In the title of the book written about him by his son 'Too nice to be a soldier':
So whatever colour poppy one wears, or whether one wears one or not, do remember all those who have died. I respect others' rights to disagree with my wearing a white poppy but the surprising thing is they do not seem to respect my right so to do whilst claiming that wars are fought to allow freedom of thought and expression......
Monday, 21 October 2013
Its pouring with rain today. Just as it had been in Aberfan forty seven years ago, although not on the day itself.
This is a deeply personal blog. When the news of the Aberfan disaster reached us in Essex, my family only heard that it was a place with the name beginning with 'Aber'. Like many Welsh ex-pats, my Father's home village began with the prefix 'Aber'*. However the slag tip that moved and engulfed the school, the children and the teachers was at Aberfan, about 25 miles away.
As we sat and watched the tv news, somehow more horrific in black and white although we were watching in real time, as in so many houses across the UK and the world, the tears were pouring down our faces. We knew the area, not that far from 'our' village, but that surely made no difference to the horror and empathy every parent and observer felt. But all those who had lived and played in the shadow [quite literally] of slag tips felt an extra pain.
My father hardly slept that night. And the little sleep he had, was full of nightmares that he was pulling my cousin out of the slag.
There is no need here to replay the causes, the warnings not heeded, the wonderful rescue efforts, the lessons learnt, many web sites detail** all this. They tell of lives affected, not just those left living in the village itself but those like the nearby university students who arrived to try and pull survivors from the wreckage only to find that it was not survivors they were recovering. Many of those students went on to become teachers and replayed those days over and over again.
But we must never forget those children and adults who died. We must never forget the warnings that went unheeded and remember now when health and safety jobs have been amongst the many job cuts recently that we can never be too careful.
May all who died sleep gently and may their families find peace. May we never forget.
* which means the mouth or confluence of a river or small stream. It is usually followed by the name of the river.
Photo above shows the Aberfan memorial garden.
Posted by Elizannie at 11:23
Monday, 7 October 2013
Ford employees globally were treated to the following piece of propaganda today:
One hundred years ago today, Ford Motor Company – led by my great-grandfather, Henry Ford – revolutionized the industry by launching the first moving assembly line. It changed the face of industry and the world, reducing the time and resources needed to build cars and making them affordable for everyone.
As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the moving assembly line, let’s continue to remember our company’s unique heritage of innovation, people serving people and products that are accessible to all – and build on them to help us Go Further.
Thank you to every member of the Ford team for making us so successful around the world yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Please look carefully at that last sentence: it leads the reader to think that Bill Ford appreciates the hard work and loyalty of all his employees.
Can you hear the howls of laughter ofrom a section of his loyal employees, now pensioners? No? I wonder why. Just put 'Justice for Visteon Pensioners' into the search section of this blog page and read about all the demos and press releases and MPs debates and hardships stories Ford UKs treatment of its former employees who were 'spun off' to Visteon UK in 2000.
No need for me to repeat here how much support VPAG [VisteonPensionActionGroup] have received from MPs, MEPs, AMs [Welsh & N.Irish], Members of the House of Lords, Trade Unions - go to the web page for an update. This web page also details all the contempt Ford have heaped upon Visteon pensioners and those supporting them. With the financial support of Unite union, a legal action against Ford will be heard in the High Court next year [again up to date news on this is to be found on the website]
The VPAG activists are ordinary people, retired and at the point in their lives when they should be carrying out the retirement activities they had planned and paid for all through their working lives. Instead many have had to return to often poorly paid jobs to make up the gaping holes in their pension funds. Some have found that at a late stage in life they have become political activists, others want to be at home playing with their grandchildren - not taking them on political rallies:
One member with his grand-daughter amongst those VPAG
members & their grandchildren presenting a letter at
Downing Street, March 2013
This Saturday is 'Super Saturday' and VPAG members and supporters will be demonstrating at various sites in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Anyone wishing to support, please ring one of the contact numbers on the VPAG web site.
Are you listening, Bill Ford? Because we are not going away! Sadly, however often and by whatever means so many of us have tried to contact the Ford hierarchy, they seemm to deem us below their notice and haven't replies. I wish they would and I would happily publish any replies here.