"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, 30 April 2011

Births and Weddings

Me, I love a good excuse for a party. I may have mentioned this before. At the drop of a hat I will decorate the house, throw a party, theme the food even if it is only something on toast. I blame the half celt side of my genetic mix, we celts love a good celebration.

This week saw two family occasions which provided really good reasons for celebrations in the Elizannie household. Youngest daughter and her partner provided Other Half and I with our fifth grandchild, a beautiful baby girl: Lola Eliza. She was born on the same day, although 141 years later, as her great, great grandmother Mary Ann Eliza. Yes, variations of the name Eliza have been around for at least 194 years that I can trace on our family tree!

The other occasion to celebrate yesterday [the 29th] was the birthday of Middle Granddaughter. At seven years old most little girls are in love with idea of princesses and weddings so Middle Granddaughter shared her birthday lunch with us with the TV and watching the Royal Wedding. We decorated the house [inside!] with bunting of Union Jack flags and Happy Birthday bunting. Yes, anarchists Elizannie and Other Half recognise the right of others to celebrate the wedding of the future King and Queen whilst actually feeling it all rather a sham - but at the same time love the expressions on the children's faces watching the event - and after all it is history in the making even if we do personally feel that the monarchy is an outmoded institution....

All babies and brides are beautiful. Its just that obviously our own babies and brides are more beautiful than other peoples'! So we will share a picture of Lola Eliza with you all and thank her Mum & Dad for the gift of her to us. And we wish well to all those wonderful gifts born at any time and to all those who marry or decide to share their lives and loves at any time. Royal or commoners - all are special.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Back from the Shires

Well, Somerset-shire. This was a combination of our first holiday visit to the our little cliff dwelling community this year plus the third and final part of the big move which was started with friends last December. We have had an unbelievably warm couple of weeks and caught up with friends and family - some of the latter whom we haven't seen for six months so lots of talking and laughing and a couple of tears at times as news was shared.

Of course most of us keep in touch by 'phone, facebook and twitter all year. I was slightly embarrassed to be told that one husband asks his wife 'what's Elizannie's campaign this week?' when she logs into facebook. But there is nothing like a good old face to face glorious catch up!

The wonderful weather resulted in really bad conditions for mobile 'phone reception and internet connection but provided breathtaking evening sunsets as shown above. National newspapers were also in short supply [due to my laziness about arranging to get them delivered] so due to relying on the radio for news I found I wasn't getting my usual reliable twitter- and blog-based information. I started worrying that if I stayed in Somerset much longer I would 'go soft' and lose my campaigning edge. However I soon found that the local papers were providing plenty of scope - the cuts in W.Somerset are swingeing. The small local library is threatened with closure and coupled with their very spasmodic bus service this will be a terrible loss to the village. The newly opened hospital cannot 'do' X-rays at night and a 16 mile trip each way to the nearest 'big' hospital is necessary - the new one is for minor injuries only. Who decides what is a minor injury is one of those questions one goes to a hospital for, I would have thought but we will let that question pass for another day perhaps.

Locally, a planning decision on a proposed supermarket development was causing the most uproar and the local election seems to be being fought mainly on this issue. I really can understand the furore as local traders are worried about their shops losing custom and the access of the proposed development onto the main holiday route is also very hazaradous. On the first point, currently living most of the year in a South Eastern village that lost nearly all its little shops over 30 years ago due to 'out of town development' I really sympathise with the Somerset villagers and traders. So many villages now are getting 'homogenised' - the same few shops hold sway and locals have to travel often many miles to buy larger purchases. Whilst we were in Somerset there was a riot in Bristol [about 30 miles away] which had its origins in a protest about a Tesco Extra which had been opened in the area.

This protest has become known as the 'Battle of Stokes Croft' and the whole issue does raise very serious questions not least about planning legislation, the role of the police and the blog linked above should be readas a balance to a lot of the items which appeared in the press over the last week-end.

On the second point raised by my local planning problem - again we have far so much road congestion in the East of England and know what a massive problem that causes that to deliberately introduce bottlenecks to a small Somerset village whose roads already gets blocked by grockles [tourists] in summer months seems unnecessary.

Holidays are good, and time away from the usual round gives one space and thinking time. Time also to learn truths about oneself and others. I learnt just how quickly I can lose a new front door key [under 24 hours] and how long in the countryside it takes to find somewhere to replace one [five days and a 16 mile each way trip] Inevitably the lost key is then found but it is always good to have plenty of spares... Eldest grandson [aged five] found that Nanny can beat him at a hole in putting when she isn't trying and doesn't know where the hole is positioned anyway so best play with the real grown ups. My friends found that if they encouraged me I will show off and make an Easter Bonnet holding all the aspects of spring including a full size toy rabbit, chicks, real flowers and chocolate eggs. Some things are best left 'undared'.

So back to the real word and an election next week and a celebration on Friday. No I haven't come over all Royalist although I wish everybody embarking on marriage on that day and any day peace and love. We have our own celebration with a granddaughter having a birthday on the 29th!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone

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When I was a child and moody adolescent and really needed something, I found the worst thing I could say to my mother in mitigation of whatever the particular 'want' was were the words 'But everybody else has it'. This always brought forth the reply [after of course the standard 'If everybody else put their head in the fire would you?' We had coal fires then of course]
Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone
This of course refers to the story of
Daniel and the lions' den
My mother, despite being a Christian Socialist, thought it terribly common to look like everyone else/join in the latest 'craze' which to a child/moody adolescent is of course the most important thing in their world.

Although my mother most definitely never watched anything that the Monty Python team produced, I was reminded of her 'quotes' when the Life of Brian hit the big screen in the late 1970s. One scene has Brian hounded by followers who believe he is the true messiah and ask him to give them guidance. He tells them not to follow him and that they should make up their own minds because 'You are all individuals'. To which they reply in chorus 'We are all individuals'. I often think of this scene when someone quotes the Daily Fail as the source for their political/sociological views, wondering why that individual cannot think for him/herself rather than follow a possibly false messiah?

[This in turn always reminds me of the wonderful scene in Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times when Chaplin's character of the factory worker unwittingly leads a revolutionary demonstration and is arrested for his part in it] People seem to need a leader?

I often thought about the phrase as I got older and decided that perhaps my mother had a different interpretation to mine. To me 'Daring to be a Daniel' is really, as the story of Daniel exemplifies, a question of standing up for what one believes to be right in the face of opposition. I am not sure if I am the stuff from which martyrs are made, but as I get older I find it more and more difficult to keep quiet about social injustices and tend to take up causes [you may have noticed!]

In 2005 the lovely Tony Benn, definitely one of my political heroes, published a book called Dare to be a Daniel: Then and Now which somehow backs up my interpretation of the phrase.

So today's message [!]: Think for yourself and always stand up for the causes in which you believe!

The inspiration for this blog came from the photograph above which I took on Mother's Day this year. Middle Son took me to a plant nursery to choose some plants for Other Half to plant in our garden [!] and this perky little plant amongst all the rows of others appealed to me.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Thanks for the invite, Mr Cameron

In a news article David Cameron urged the general public to celebrate the Royal Wedding on the 29th April:

"My message to everyone who wants to have a street party is: I'm having one and I want you to go ahead and have one too.
"The truth is that this is a great chance for communities to come together and celebrate.
"So go on - bring out the bunting and let's make this a day to remember. For everyone."

Really good of him to spend the money of the population in advance like this. Quite a few angry voices on facebook and twitter already commenting on this. I especially liked Essex Boy's tweet:

All invited to No 10 street party great idea

and one reply:

Why not all drive [to] Downing St [and] clog city pi** Cameron off!

This kind of pronouncement from Cameron confirms my prejudice that the Royal Wedding is providing a wonderful smoke screen for all the ills of the country and turning the 'lower orders' thoughts away from the terrible cuts that the Coalition Government are inflicting on them. Surely we are not going to be taken in by this?

Supermarkets - without an eye on profits and simply out of the kindness of their hearts - are selling all sorts of tat to make sure the street parties go with a swing so if you fancy eating your spam sandwiches off a Union Jack plate rush on down to your nearest sales point before they sell out.

In a facebook discussion, it was pointed out that 28th April, the day before the Royal Wedding, is Workers Memorial Day which, to quote the website:
The purpose behind Workers' Memorial Day has always been to "remember the dead: fight for the living" and unions are asked to focus on both areas, by considering events or memorial to remember all those killed through work but at the same time ensuring that such tragedies are not repeated. That can best be done by building trade union organisation, and campaigning for stricter enforcement with higher penalties for breaches of health & safety laws.

Workers Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government.
This year the Union movement will also be reflecting on the effect the cuts 'in HSE and local authority resources, and the lack of inspection and enforcement activity will have on working people.'

Please click on the website link and find out if your union will have any events near to you. And if not please light a candle at 5.30pm in memory too.

And yes do lets have another great big street party in London to celebrate US. Actually we had a rather good one on 26th March when 500,000 of us marched to Hyde Park. I took our own sandwiches which Other Half and I sat and ate with a couple of Unite union members from Norfolk with whom we had palled up. We all had a good time and it was all very friendly and happy, lots of our friends were there but the crowds were so big and peaceful that we couldn't find one and another.

Of course you may not have heard about this because the newspapers and media didn't report an awful lot about this, concentrating instead on some yobs who did damage in Regent Street who oddly enough didn't get arrested whilst 145 peaceful protestors from UKuncut in Fortnum and Mason did. To offer support to those peaceful protestors please follow the link.

The photograph? Well it shows celebrations in the early 1930s of some of my family [including the original Elizannie] at the wedding of one of them. It is in the part of Essex now included in a London borough and although no-one had a lot of money, all clubbed together to make the dresses, 'do' the flowers and catering and the street provided part of the arena for the celebrations. Working people have always known how to have fun!

Dedicated to Lyn Costello and all her friends and all who do the excellent work at MAMAA