Friday 26 November 2010


I'm a lucky boy...last night as I swung out of the yard where our office is, the rear tyre on the scooter blew out. I heard it go 'pop' and it was flat as a pancake in a second. But I managed to stay upright, and was within pushing distance to the local dealer who could fix it all before I set off for home. How good is that? If it happened when I was on the busy A12 during the rush hour as I zip along at 50mph, the story may have been different. Plus I get the bonus of thinking my riding skills are better than I though because I didn't topple over.

In principle I think it's a waste of time and brain power to spend time on regrets. After all what has happened has happened, and time is better spent on the present or the future. However, I've often been heard to say that if I had one criticism of my time at University it was that Exeter was 'a nice middle-class, home counties sort of place' and I don't believe the word 'radical' existed in any students' dictionaries. Now I'd say that's a bit of a shame because by the time you reach University you are well-enough educated to know a fair few things, but not part of the great down-trodden, so the opportunity and potential to rage against the machine is all there.

Students have taken to the streets to protest against the increase in University fees, and there's been a fair amount of unrest, and even a little violence. But they don't have my support. Not because I think fees should rise, but because they are too narrow-minded and limited in their ambition. University fees are but one tiny part of what is wrong with the world's sixth largest economy, and perhaps the world's third or fourth most developed society. And I can't help but feel that the girl who stood there trying to stop them from rolling the police van over on its side because 'someone might get hurt' is missing the point. It is the students who have the least to lose, they should be the free-thinkers...the people who could and should be radicalising society and pressing for change....for revolution on the streets.

Should I, a reasonably respectable middle-class father be saying it's time for revolution? Well yes I think I should. Many people have been shafted by the City over the last couple of years...I see more than amply qualified graduates on the dole, I see people who have saved for their retirement lose it all, I see previously successful people brought to their knees, whilst the City goes on oblivious to the mess it has created. Jeremy Paxman summed it up well this week when he said that it is a curiosity of twenty-first century capitalism that when the Banks get into trouble it becomes the State's problem. Pity the Irish...and the Portuguese to come. Our politicians are no better. Professional managers with no vision and no statesmanship they have been singularly ineffective...firstly allowing us to get into this mess, and secondly for allowing the financiers to get away with it. Perhaps it's because we have a political system that is inept and works against change...the X-Factor mentality permeates the entire voting public.

So we should all be out on the streets, demanding change. Real change. But of course we won't's a bit chilly out there. We've all got our colour TVs, our cars, our semis in suburbia. We are comfortable, if a little bit annoyed. And if we make too much of a fuss, we could lose it all. After all, it's difficult to know the consequences of revolution. But we need it. No more middle-ground, too polite, grey-shade politics. If we don't get change now we never will. They system is needs to be changed. For all our sakes...and for our children.

Thursday 25 November 2010

So what do you think about this?

Its a picture created by the young artist Mark Sinckler using a photo from the 7/7 bombings. And it's caused upset in the tabloid media.

I think it has a rare beauty...and it's got me thinking about the people who were involved.

But then none of my family or friends were caught up in the events of the day.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Black and white

For this week's gallery, Tara left us to interpret the theme of black and white. I've chosen this particular photo. It hangs on the wall of our dining room, and was taken in The Natural History Museum when The Boy was nine. Some people can see two faces in the can be quite disconcerting...but I think it's very benign...or maybe sad...

Monday 22 November 2010

Oh what a lovely war!

The Boy and The Cat were whisked away by the school on a trip to the 1st World War battlefields for the weekend. The Boy found a grave with the family name on...Bradstock. And then at another site, our surname. Of course it's always good to find these possible historic connections, until you start to think it through and realise that these were little more than boys who gave their lives in the terrible slaughter of the Great War. The school lost 160 former pupils aged between 18 and 24...and given that at the time it was a school of no more than 300, that is a remarkable and heart-rending statistic. It seems to have hit all the participants very hard. And if it teaches them a lesson for the future, then that is a good thing.

Back in the present day, a small battle...

Last week I was sent a council tax demand by Hackney Council. For a flat which had once upon a time been owned by The Boy's mother. For most of our marriage I didn't even know about it. Sometime after we divorced it was sold...about ten years ago. And after her death it transpired that she co-owned it with someone I'd never heard of. When I rang the council to explain, the only response I got was that they had sent the bill because I hadn't told them it had been sold. I tried to explain again. In words of one syllable. I got the same response. I tried to ask what had they been doing for the last ten years. I got the same response. So I explained in traditional English exactly what I thought about them. And put the phone down. I so hope they pursue this one through the courts.

I got another mailing from Hackney Council today. In fact it is for a property I do own. In the envelope was a 30 page colour brochure explaining what they spend the Council Tax on; a six page leaflet explaining what the Greater London Authority spends its money on; a 20 page council tax paying in booklet. And the bill. If you click on the image, and have good eye site, you can see the bill was for exactly £0.00. You may consider this a waste. I do. If you look even more closely right at the bottom it shows the council 'efficiency savings'. I couldn't possibly comment