"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/

Friday, 12 September 2014

No or Yes? Less than a week to the Referendum

Sadly, a lot of non-Scottish Brits do not seem interested in the Scottish Referendum, which is now less than a week away. Ideas that separation could affect England and Wales too are only just beginning to seep into the collective consciousnesses of many of those South of the Border.

I have been chatting today with a Scots friend on facebook and I thought that maybe, with the Scottish Referendum less than a week away, I could expand some of my comments into something that would be of wider interest. He is of the 'No Thanks' persuasion:

"For the past year or so I have been reading your discussions regarding the forthcoming referendum with great interest, my friend. Whilst your remarks and comments have been measured and backed up with facts, so often those from the 'yes' campaign have been increasingly hysterical and wild. A bit like the comments from Salmond, if his remarks yesterday comparing the Scottish referendum to South Africa’s post-apartheid election are correctly reported in context it does make one wonder about the ego of the man. Whilst some commentators are saying that he is referring to the amount of those entitled to vote registering to vote comparing in the high percentage to those registering to vote in the South African election, others are saying that he is using the juxtaposition of South Africa's post apartheid and Scotland's possible independence deliberately. Anyone would think that England had colonised Scotland rather than the truth that the Scottish King who acceded to the English throne, James V1 of Scotland who became James 1st of England, was rather pleased about the fact!

As a Welsh/English Brit living in the South East of England most of the time, whilst I wouldn't  claim that our political system is as good as it could be, I would suggest that there is safety in numbers and that only by all pulling together can we achieve any sort of strength on a global scale. And I don't mean military strength.

If I were to have a vote, I know I would be very worried about the unanswered questions, nay ignored questions that Salmond and his comrades seem to feel unnecessary to answer. Covering cultural, political and economic areas, those questions alone would make me vote 'No Thanks', Sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil dressed in sheep's clothing [very mixed metaphors but too much reading of Salmond's speeches can do that to one]  And after any election, getting victorious politicians to stick to their campaign promises can be difficult enough, let alone attempting to get a politician to carry out a promise that 'things will be a better' - a subjective comment if ever there was one!
We are coming to Scotland on referendum day and I am sure it will be an interesting experience. If I could vote, which I can't, it would be 'No' because I really do believe we are 'better together'. "

The next few days leading up to the 18th will be interesting. Meanwhile, those Brits 'South of the Border' should really be thinking how the whole vote, whichever way it goes, could affect the whole of the UK.

Photo courtesy:

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Is the World Turning Upside Down?*

Other Half and I have just arrived back in the South East after spending a month with friends and family in the South West. As many of you know, when in the South West we are usually perched on a cliff, overlooking the Bristol Channel. Broadband signal comes and go, 'phone signals disappear mid-conversation and often I [deliberately] go a few days without hearing or reading the news.

So when I do hear/catch up with upto date news it can sometimes seem far more stark and frightening than when in usual, everyday 'real life' mode when we hear new bulletins seemingly all day long. One morning Other Half woke me up by saying 'The Elephants are taking over'. Once we had sorted out that I hadn't got my hearing aids in place and he had actually said 'The Militants are taking over' and discussed sensibly what he had meant, we both agreed that the idea of Elephants taking over was a preferable option. By 'the Militants' he was ironically referring to speeches by Barack Obama and other 'World Leaders' calling for military intervention in various trouble spots world wide. In the month that 'celebrates' [rather than commemorates] the start of World War One this is truly ironical. We noticed too how the Israeli aggression against Gaza seemed to drop rapidly out of the news, to be replaced by stories of violence in Syria. Coincidence?

During the month we also heard that British citizens who leave the country to fight with the Jihadis in Syria and Iraq would not be allowed back into this country. Whilst having no sympathy with their views, I thought this was a dangerous decision for the government to take because it seemed to be the top of a slippery slope: once this move had been allowed for Jihadist sympathisers would it spread to others who did not agree with the government for other reasons? Nineteen Eighty Four and the thought police come to mind. The news later in the week that it is against international law to deny a country's citizens entry to that country was slightly reassuring.....

The news that parents who had taken a terminally ill child from the hospital which had been treating him to another country in the hope that there would be one more procedure which could help him, had been arrested and separated from their child, appalled us. The UK hospital, who had sadly done all they could to help the little boy, claim that he is now in danger and British police felt it had no other option but to issue a European arrest warrant. As it turns out when the little boy was taken from the hospital by his parents it appears they were not breaking the law and as he only has a few months to live the whole situation seems horrendous. Politicians are now saying the child and his parents should be reunited and such is the cynicism with which politicos are now viewed in this country it has been suggested that these are vote catching comments. How sad.

for the family's sake I hope this is resolved soon.*

Since this was typed it has been announced that the European arrest warrant has been withdrawn by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Returning from the South West on Sunday the amount of police vehicles - motor bikes, people wagons, patrol cars [any unmarked cars could not, of course, be seen!] - travelling West on the other carriageway was remarkable. Presumably on the way to Newport for the NATO summit which opens later this week. Cordons are of course already in place in Newport [where a peace camp has already been set up] and Cardiff [where summit dinners are to take place]

Whilst the NATO summit is looming, another 'World Event' is also on the September calendar. The referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country will take place on September 18th and the two sides seem to be rather nastier to each other than one would have expected. A good friend is in the 'No' camp and I have to say that the amount of insults he receives compared to the good sense of his comments would have me voting 'no' if I had  a vote, although I already sympathise with the 'no' campaign anyway!] Since the Act of Union in 1707 was deemed to benefit both England [including Wales] and Scotland at the time there are obviously issues to be discussed after 300+ years - anomalies maybe seen on both sides like that fact that Scottish MPs can vote on English problems but not vice versa and the fact that the Scottish and English/Welsh legal systems are separate. But some of the screaming arguments that have taken place are surely counter-productive to the sort of reasoned logic that would be appreciated by the interested but unresolved voter? And the answer to whether or not Scotland can be included in the European community seems to differ according to which leader is questioned...... thus including this as a 'European community', if not a 'World' event. 

This government has provided its citizens with many u-turns but this week a welcome one for dwellers along the Thames Estuary is the news that another of Boris Johnson's pipe dreams seems to be failing. This is of course his plans for an island airport for London in the Thames Estuary. Those of us who have lived along the estuary for any length of time [and in my case that adds up to more than 60 years] knew from the beginning that - excuse the pun - these ideas would not fly and you can read about my fears here . I daresay that Boris in his role as Mayor of London is annoyed about the upset to his plans, but as in another apparent volte face he has announced lately that he will stand for Parliament in the next election perhaps he will manage to get over his disappointment.

Catching up with facebook I was surprised - and pleased - at the number of people who were taking up the ice bucket challenge to raise money and awareness for various charities, mainly ALS/MND [see my effort here ] But underlining that is the feeling - as when there is any large charity push for money - that it should not be down to the kindness of strangers to pay for the things which governments, who seem to be able to find the money for weapons with which to wage war, claim they have not enough funds to pay.

The world may not have turned upside down in the past few weeks, but there have been times when it shivered a little on its axis. The Super Moon could be viewed in the second week of August and we saw it when travelling back from Swansea to Somerset with one of our grandsons in the back of our car. He was awed by the sight of the apparently massive moon travelling along the motorway next to us, its size and brightness giving off an aura of peace which our world badly needs.

I don't suppose it will surprise any of you that the photograph above is taken at Glastonbury Tor, Somerset. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images 

Blog title: Some of my reasons for parodying the quote: 'The World Turned Upside Down'
The World Turned Upside Down was originally a ballad written in the 1640s and for more information visit here.
The wonderful and talented Leon Rosselson wrote a song with the same title about the story of the Digger Commune of 1649. You can hear Billy Bragg singing it here or Roy Bailey here.
Marxist Historian Christopher Hill wrote a seminal book about the English Civil War in 1972 with this title.

Monday, 1 September 2014

A Week is a Long Time [in Politics*]/ Double Drenchings

Our three year old granddaughter nominated us to take part in the 'ice bucket challenge' last week. All summer I have said that if nominated I would pay the 'fine' [sending double the suggested donation] rather than be drenched needlessly, but when a tiny child - willing herself to be drenched with ice cold water - nominates Nanny and Grandad, how can one refuse? So yesterday I allowed another granddaughter to throw a bowl of water over me and the result can be seen above. In turn I nominated David Cameron and George Osbourne and I have sent them videos of my drenching to this effect and will let you know their replies, but please don't hold your breath. 

Three year old granddaughter was raising funds and awareness for Tommy's baby charity and I also donated to the MND charity in memory of my cousin Bobby who passed away with this disease. [
Anyone wishing to join me in donations can do so by texting as follows: for Tommy's, which will donate £3, BABY to 70007 or for MND: ICED55 £5 (or other amount) to 70070]

Yesterday was warm and sunny and the dousing was quite short with large, fluffy towels to hand. Exactly one week before, Other Half and I were at a music festival in the West Country in rather cold and wet weather. Wrapped in a large crocheted blanket against the cold I was dancing in the pouring rain to the music of one of my favourite modern folk bands, Bellowhead

I may be getting older but I am certainly not getting any wiser. 

So two drenchings in a week, one for good causes and one for sheer hedonism [other Bellowhead fans will get the pun as 'Hedonism' is the title of one of their CDs...] but both great fun, especially when surrounded by family and friends.

*This quote is generally attributed to Harold Wilson but this could p
ossibly be a misattribution; according to Nigel Rees in Brewster's Quotations (1994), asked shortly after his retirement in 1977 about the quote, he could not pinpoint the first occasion on which he uttered the words.