"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/

Saturday, 13 December 2014

The new 'old lie'

Along with many other TV viewers, I watched BBC Question Time last Thursday 
[7th December] It's still available on iplayer if, dear reader, you would like to
check it out.

I usually watch #bbcqt. Sometimes I join in the 'discussion' by tweeting along 
with it on hashtag #bbcqt. [See, I am down with the kids when it comes to 
techie talk. Although I am having trouble formatting this blog today and on a 
tight time schedule so bear with me and I hope you can read this in reasonable 
comfort. And the colours maybe, well, interesting] 

Russell Brand and Nigel Farage were billed amongst the panelists. Interesting, I 
thought. And it was. Brand seemed to be trying to hold himself back and not 
live up to his firework image. Farage seemed not to have the same 
principles and - imo - was his usual patronising, truth-bending, mis-leading self.
However a couple of times his hail fellow well met act slipped and then the fire
in his eyes flashed and maybe his true self showed.

Yesterday there was, expectedly, quite a bit of discussion in the media about 
which of the two 'won' the debate. I was unaware that the debate was between 
the two and that there was a winner or loser. There were three others on the 
and all were interesting and had some good points to make. Whether one 
agreed or not. How annoying to make those points and then have the media
apparently ignore your presence. It was revealed by the media that some of the
audience may have been 'plants' by the panelists [Quelle Surprise] - the chappie
who challenged Brand to stand for Parliament is apparently the brother of a 
UKIP MEP and may stand for office himself. Brand himself wrote a long piece on 
facebook talking about his experience and his views and if, dear reader, you 
care to google there are many media articles taking sides on the 'debate'.

But today the lovely poet Michael Rosen has put up a view on facebook which I
want to share beyond facebook participants. So here it is. He wrote:

"I keep thinking of the young working class bloke (or he said he was) in the 
audience of Question Time who said that the working class had been hit hardest 
by immigration. What a  terrible success of the lie that his low wages have 
been caused by immigrants. What's incredible is that he could believe this at a 
time when it has been explicit - nay, boasted of - information coming from 
government and everywhere else that they are sacking people and 
keeping down wages as part of 'austerity'. So, in the usual run of things, the 
government 'freezes' wages (that is, cuts them in real terms) and the private 
sector uses that as a means to fix the rates too. That's what employers do. It's 
their 'job' to do that. They're paid hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to 
freeze wages. It's what they're doing.

And the bloke in the audience says that he's been hit by immigrants.

I hope a trade union organiser finds him at work on Monday and signs him up."

Wilfred Owen in WW1 wrote about the 'Old Lie' [Dulce et Decorum est] One hundred years later, another poet talks about another 'new' old lie.

Michael and I seemed to be watching the same programme. Thank goodness, as many of the commentators in the media yesterday didn't. We are entering the General Election propaganda period now, so look out for more 'new' Old Lies. Take the Politicians up on them all. Remember that if we let them get away with them, it is people like us that will suffer. Millions of us. Remember the man who said last time 'We are the party of the NHS'?* Did you believe him? Will you believe what he says this time? Just asking?

BTW I don't support Brand's views on not voting. I think that the only way we can change anything is through the ballot box. But also we should get involved by going to meetings, asking questions, lobbying MPs and candidates. We are part of the political processes. If we don't participate in however small a way, we cannot after the election complain. And as I and many others say on election days 'Many have died to get the vote so we shouldn't waste it'.

*Of course, David Cameron.

For the first time ever, no photo. Formatting and time have defeated me. I may return later and add something inappropriate!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Tony Blair's Christmas Card

Who would live in a house like this?
The decorated house from
 National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Sometimes I think our society is divided into those who love to complain and those who try to see the best in everything ["Pollyannas"] The complainers at Christmas time can be generically referred to as "Grinches"***.

I try to be a Pollyanna**, although complaining can burst out - especially in the political realm. In the spirit of Pollyannaism today, I posted a paean of praise to the 'organisers' of the new charging system at the Dartford Crossing: New system for charging at the Dartford Crossing started on Sunday. Our Dart tag payment was automatically changed to the new charge  - no problem. We crossed both ways on Sunday - no problem. Today Other Half changed our car reg number online - no problem. Now that we are in the system as soon as our credit drops below £10 a direct debit will automatically top it up.

But. Why do some seem to look for subjects to complain about? There has just been a completely manufactured news item about whether or not it is a good idea to send out family pictures on Christmas Cards in the light of  what was adjudged to be the frankly scary production by Cherie and Tony Blair and as for Christmas Round Robins - well apparently they are beyond the pale!

Cards on the table time [see what I did there?] I love getting Christmas Cards and Christmas Round Robins. If it wasn't for Christmas I know I wouldn't hear from lots of distant relations, friends and acquaintances at all.That's fine - we are all guilty of the 'yeah, I'll give so-and-so a ring next week'. Next week turns into next month and so on. That's why I love facebook, for the gossip! So what if the photos we send out are not of fashion model status, or show our age/wrinkles/gormless smiles - they are us! So what if are news items are quite parochial - they are about us!

What is this push for perfection? What's the panic about getting everything right for 'C-day'? What if the dinner isn't on the table bang on time? What if the Christmas cake is a bit wonky and burnt on one corner? What if the wrapping paper has run out and doesn't all match? What is important after all? Smiles and talking to people. Presents don't have to cost a lot, truly. The thought really does count - if it doesn't well perhaps there is something else wrong.

This time of year should be festive - happy. Individuals may or may not celebrate one of the religious celebrations that occur at the ending of the calendar year. We also have the celebration of the Winter Solistice to show that the lighter times are returning, always a milestone in the winter. Hopefully this should be a time when people are able to share time with family and friends.

It would be nice if for once people tried not to let media advertising persuade them to spend money they did not have on  things they did not need. And didn't use the time of the year as an excuse for things they really wanted to do or didn't want to do - along the lines of 'I couldn't possibly do that until after Christmas' starts being heard in mid-October. And signing into a hotel in shorts on the first day of August I was a little surprised to see a photograph of a Christmas Tree inviting me to book my Christmas Dinner. The parents threatening their children with no presents from Father Christmas unless they behave/eat their dinner/stop crying have rather missed the meaning of Christmas and the reason why we give Christmas presents any way.

Are you going to be a Christmas Pollyanna or a Grinch? Do try to enjoy the run up to Christmas even if you don't go along with all the customs/rituals. Marvel at the lights and laugh at the soppy Christmas movies! You never know, like Frank Cross in Scrooged*^ you may find:
It's Christmas Eve! It's... it's the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we... we... we smile a little easier, we... w-w-we... we... we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!

And I will leave you with the immortal words of Clark Griswold in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation*:

Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, kiss my ass. Kiss his ass. Kiss your ass. Happy Hanukkah.

Especially for Elizabeth Ann, Michael and Andy Mills 

Two Christmas 'must see' movies in our house and those of many of our family

^Scrooged is a version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol . Any version is really worth watching if you haven't the chance to read the story, for reasons I outline here .