"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 28 December 2012

Cool Yule

Life in the Elizannie/Other Half household pre/during/after the Yuletide festivities:

My self imposed deadlines which mostly didn't happen, regarding presents/decorations to make; letters/emails/tweets to write; 'phone calls/visits to make. Luckily,whether through age, disinterest or wisdom I don't worry about cleaning the house from top to bottom before Christmas as I used to do in my younger years!

Had my Christmas hair cut last week. 'They' will make one take glasses off when cutting so didn't realise I was wearing my trendy sweatshirt with embroidered logo inside out, nor that 'they' had cut my hair shorter than I had imagined it would be [although I do like it] I had asked for a 'Bradley Wiggins' [a la the Sports Personality of the Year] hairstyle but luckily the hairdresser feminised it a bit. Other Half said that I am not safe to go out on my own but he had odd shoes on so I felt slightly superior.

Perhaps I rather go over the top with my 'A Christmas Carol' obsession [owning 50 film versions and countless print versions] One grandaughter was heard muttering in her sleep 'God Bless Us Everyone'.

Pre-Christmas Festivities:
This year the annual family Pantomime visit and the Church Christmas Carol Service fell on the same day. Different members of the family attending one or both. Luckily no-one got confused and shouted out 'he's behind you' in the wrong place. In the Carol Service Youngest Grandson performed a lovely solo although he had to stand in front of the dias as it is higher than him. Youngest Grandaughter [20 months old] did lead the dancing in the aisle during the last carol ['lead' is a little bit of an exaggeration as she was the only one doing it. But she did get a round of applause]

The Day:
We are lucky to have two Christmas Days as Eldest Grandson goes to his Mum on Christmas Eve evening so we have the first one with him on Christmas Eve. It has long been a custom to have everyone here for tea on that day. Youngest Daughters said she enjoyed that day best because when all the children arrived in the evening they are playing together and it is about family being happy together. The 'real' Christmas Day tends to be more selfish and 'look what I have got'. [Christmas Eve is fun but chaos and Other Half caught me putting the waste paper in the washing machine which shows how far I had lost touch with reality at that point - completely sober too - and when I took the washing out this morning it was to find there was still aluminium foil in there...]

Christmas Day itself is of course the usual celebration of greed and overspending although we do try to keep it simple and include stupid presents and also homemade and thoughtful things which are often more appreciated than the wildly expensive offerings.

Just Other Half and I today so rather quiet. Well apart from Peter Gabriel and the new version War of the Worlds alternating in blaring out on the CD before they are added to the mp3 players. Grandparents and their toys.


Some family members went shopping mall visiting yesterday. As I managed to keep away from such places before the event I am even firmer about keeping away now. Online shopping is the way to go as much as possible although I realise that means the demise of local shops - but when one doesn't have many local shops it is a boon. Anyway we haven't so much money this year as Other Half hasn't worked this Christmas, so its a moot point!! We noticed a definite drop off in the receipt of Christmas cards and several only arrived after we had sent to them. So many people feeling the pinch and my charity donation is going to have to wait until after my next pension payment!!

However we did venture to the nearest small town to buy a few essentials and popped into the M & S food only to find that washing-up liquid was included in their sale. I have never bought that in a sale before and was disappointed to find that lavatory paper was not similary included.

 This bit of time between Christmas and New Year is often a 'taking stock time' both personally and nationally. We won't look at politics too hard just now but personally a few things occur.

Middle Son has had Guillaine Barre syndrome for a year now and is settling to think some of the feeling in his feet may never come back. Still we are thankful to still have him and as it started in mid-December last year he keeps comparing and feeling so much better! Additionally he is facing redundancy, should know mid-January and I think he is facing that with more equanimity than if he hadn't been ill. Silver linings and all that.

 Everyone have been nagging me to get 'something done' about my hearing [which has worsened considerably this year] Actually I don't think there is much that will be able to done about my hearing but will have it all looked at again just to pacify everyone else. Sometimes not hearing what is going on around oneself can be an advantage - not getting involved in disputes or giving opinions for examples - but missing out on jokes and the babies' little gems of words are depressing. Also others' looks of outrage when they think they are being ignored can be upsetting. I often feel like wearing a sign around my neck 'I cannot hear you - please be patient', but we do not live in a patient society and imperfection  and lesser ability than the 'norm' is taken as something of which to be ashamed- an attitude led by government unfortunately.[Little bit of politics creeping in there. Unavoidable really....]

Well, off to 'rip' my new CDs to my mp3 player. Whilst that is happening maybe I will be able to find several of the household necessities which I 'tidied away' last week.

Wishing all a Peaceful and Joyous New Year. And to the Coalition Government - may you find some kindness and commonsense amongst the New Year resolutions. [OK, more politics, but I am Elizannie] God Bless Us, Everyone xx       

Picture above is the Christmas Card Other Half had made for me, adapting a poster for the old Basil Rathbone film version of 'A Christmas Carol'. I seem to be playing the part of [Mrs] Scrooge and Other Half Marley.

Thursday 6 December 2012

When were we ever all in it together?

I will leave the commenting on the Autumn Statement to all those with better analytical powers than I [I rely on Paul Lewis to put me straight] But of course any change in the financial system in the country and the way that it is arranged and distributed between those who have and those who have not causes more far reaching discussions than just the monetary aspect.

So have we [citizens of this country] ever truly 'been in it together' - and what is this vaunted 'togetherness' anyway?

Look back over history, maybe only as far as the late 18th and 19th century, for examples of this 'togetherness'. What about the too many workers in the Industrial Revolution living in poor conditions around the mills, factories, foundries, mines and their employers living away from the areas in the better air and countryside? What about the agricultural workers thrown off the land they had worked for generations during the enclsures whilst the owners 'ploughed' greater profits into their own bank accounts. The Highland Clearances were another example of 'them and us' when 'them' did NOT want to be in it with 'us'. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were deported for Swearing an Oath which was very similar to that sworn by Freemasons yet none of the latter found themselves shackled and in a boat to Australia with the former.

In the twentieth century, are we thinking about the togetherness that sent ordinary, conscripted, working men who did not understand the reasons for the First World War into the hell of enemy fire at the front line whilst the Generals sat and planned those advances way behind the trenches? [Siegfried Sassoon  above wrote rather a good poem about this * below] And when the men who were lucky enough to return from that war needed jobs, decent homes to live in or care for their injuries did they get it in the same way that medals were handed out to those same Generals and Officers? The togetherness that meant hundreds of men and women from different parts of the UK in the 1930s found it necessary to band together and march to London to illustrate to the 'other half' of the country just how deep was the plight of the unemployed?

The twentieth century also saw a hope of 'togetherness' that was snatched away. Those  of us born after the second world war had the hope that we could become equal wherever we happened to be born - whether in a Castle or a Cottage. The introduction of the Welfare State, the National Health Service, Education that did not have to be paid for so that a child whose parents could not afford school fees could eventually get a university degree - it was a wonderful time to be young. We got our university degrees, we got good jobs and paid a lot of tax and National Insurance. Our old age was secure - we had the State Pension to which we could look forward, the company pension to which we had contributed [thus our life savings] and the National Health Service would mean that we would not finish our lives in the sort of pain and suffering and anxiety our grandparents had suffered. Of course there was still the inequality of those who started out with a lot more money than us - but so what, we would be OK.... and if we were unlucky enough to fall ill or unemployed, we had paid in all those years, that was what the tax and insurance was for, wasn't it?

Come forward into the 21st century and look at our present situation. University education is now so costly that many poorer students are deterred from even applying to university. The sort of interrogation [and I use that word in its true sense] that many have to undergo to receive disability payments is shaming in a so called civilised society. Whilst waiting for the decision to be reached if an individual is entitled to 'welfare' payments, many are quite literally going without food. Education and health provision can be better or worse according to the 'post code lottery' of where one happens to live - in other words richer areas fare better than poorer ones. Look at  the way the Remploy factories have been closed. [Minutes ago closure of the rest of the factories has been announced] Very many ordinary hard working individuals who have all their lives invested in either private or company pension schemes have in the past few years been defrauded when those schemes have failed for different reasons. [You can read about one here ] Those living on a State Pension are finding it increasingly difficult to manage - and yesterdays comments that those on welfare benefits should share in the hardships of the rest of the country and therefore not get much of an increase over the next three years has a very hollow ring.

Then look at this coalition government  with its millionaires and public school educated individuals. Can they really understand the problems  of those living on welfare benefits - of course not but the real question is do they want to? Are they interested and are they asking the right questions of those who know and can advise them? Do they care enough about the tax avoidance and evasion of big companies and richer individuals as much as they seem to fear that just possibily someone somewhere might be getting a pound or two more than they are entitled to on welfare payments? Because believe me, all those that I know who are on welfare benefits have a hard enough job getting that to which they are entitled, with out any extras.

This is a miserable rant, I know. Anyone with a cheerful take on it all, please write on a Charity Christmas Card and post to keep the postmen and women in work.

*The General

‘Good-morning; good-morning!’ the General said
When we met him last week on our way to the line.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead,
And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
‘He’s a cheery old card,’ grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.

. . . .
But he did for them both by his plan of attack.