As we head for the General Election, I’m learning a lot more about how things work in British politics. Not that I’m a dedicated student now, or was uninterested before, but there is far more readily available information at our fingertips these days. Something I hadn’t known was that the speaker of the House of Commons is traditionally unopposed and so effectively gets a free pass. Not this time though. Which is actually two problems.
The first is that as he is now going to have to fight for his seat, there is the chance that the current speaker John Bercow may not be re-elected. On the one hand, this is a good thing, and the fact that speaker’s haven’t had to fight for their seat in the past is outrageous. The other major parties effectively honouring an old agreement and not putting up candidates of their own. On the other hand, as we now have a large proportion of what goes on in the House of Commons televised, it’s been very clear that Mr. Bercow is a huge improvement on the previous speaker, and as someone capable of keeping the rabble in check, is quite an asset. If he fails in his bid for election, then the process of finding a new speaker has to be gone through, and as a new precedent will be set, this could become the norm at every general election.
Realistically, it seems highly unlikely that Bercow will lose his seat though, as the opposition are a rag-tag bunch that are more likely to take the few votes they do get from each other than from him. The first to announce he was going to stand was Nigel Farage, former leader of UKIP, and regular supplier of outlandish sound-bites to the news media. He also does a sideline in trying to destroy diplomatic relations with his colleagues in the European Parliament. The rest are a fairly average bunch of fringe party members and independents that know they’ll get their five minutes on TV if they stand in this particular constituency this time.
The fact that he is the speaker, and has a reasonably high profile should see Mr. Bercow through, but there are points that he’ll need to answer. Although he has impressed in his handling of the house, and his lack of tolerance of the mooing and wailing that goes on there, he wasn’t entirely untouched by the expenses scandal that prompted the removal of his predecessor in the role. Some in his constituency are angered at the fact that the major parties are not providing candidates too, and rightly so.
I think it would be a shame to lose someone well suited to the role they are in, and who is doing a good job. Right from the off it was clear that some of the frills and faff of the speaker’s job were not for this man, as he dispensed with the ridiculous gown and garter garb of those who’d gone before. No doubt the now ubiquitous suit will become the comedy outfit of future centuries, but wearing it now makes a very simple point that getting on with the job is more important than the ceremony.
Ideally, the role of speaker should be done by someone other than an elected MP. There must be many capable candidates for the job. TV and news presenters that cover politics, lawyers, police officers, arbitrators, military types, maybe even former MPs. Breaking the link would prevent using the speakers attempts to be re-elected as an easy way to get media exposure for those that oppose him, and more importantly returns the proper choices to the people of a constituency no longer caught up in this old habit. In this case, the people of Buckingham would have their full choice restored, though it could be anywhere else next time. If John Bercow did fail to get elected though, the speaker would then be from some other constituency anyway, and the whole problem just moves somewhere else. Additionally, the unfair advantage of the speaker of ‘having the ear of any minister’ would also be removed, though the people of Buckingham might want to bear that in mind for now.
Realistically, the whole system of Parliament needs a massive overhaul. Again, the fact that the Parliament channel now exists means that we get to see more of what goes on in our name. A lot of it is archaic nonsense and should be done away with. The ‘wash up’ is a travesty and should be replaced with a simple pause. Rushing through or killing various bills just because an election is coming up is a disgrace. A worst of both worlds combination of work wasted putting bills together, and then last minute decisions resulting in half baked bills that aren’t fit for purpose. Part of the ceremonial side of this process involved the repetition of a couple of French phrases in answer to whether bills were passed or not. I’ve got nothing against the French, but that’s at the polar opposite of the plainness that should be brought in. On a more regular basis, throughout a parliament the members of the two houses use the term ‘the other place’ to refer to the Commons and Lords, which is utterly ludicrous. I’d love to see the Plain English Society given a leading role in updating the whole language of parliament and government.
A ten year plan would be my ideal. Carried out independently of the political parties. The brief would be to produce a way of working that is more fitting for the age we live in, and as much as possible with methods in place to allow future changes to allow for changes in the way the world works over time. I heard one politician on the news talking of the greatness of this mother of all parliaments. If this parliament wants to remain one to be looked up to it needs to reinvent itself, or it will be left behind and laughed at. Nothing more than a quaint tourist attraction.
Though his is likely to be a minor role in this election, if Farage is in any way responsible for starting the wheel rolling on complete overhaul, then it could very well be the one positive thing he’ll do in his political career.
I don’t think I’ll hold my breath for either outcome, but there’s always hope.
Recently, I’d noticed a few more cases of people in the public eye sharing their names. Some I’d been aware of for quite a while, but it was almost like there was a sudden spate in the last few weeks, so I noted a few down. Following the same law that makes hundreds of cars just like yours magically appear when you get a new one, more then appeared as well.
I suspect it’s due to the massive amount of information we’re exposed to these days that makes this happen more often than it used to. Or at least if it used to happen, it’s now far more visible in an era of sound-bites and short attention spans.
I came across the two matches that started me thinking about this quite close together. As someone brought up on TV and computers, it’s hardly surprising these were the source. More interestingly, they are both similar in the sense that the people involved are, to say the least, not very similar.
Watching Question Time recently, I noticed in the end credits that the Head of Production was Danielle Lloyd. Not having anyone watching with me at the time, I had to content myself with a smirk rather than saying ‘ha, look, Head of Production is Danielle Lloyd’. I could have said it, but cats don’t care. Obviously this is a different Danielle Lloyd to the one famous for…….. erm, well let’s ask trusty google. ‘Model and TV presenter’ according to her own website, though serial WAG, racist and night club fight victim seem to be just as regularly mentioned. A sad sign of the times is that even with my preference for 100 hits per page on google, the BBC QT version is nowhere to be seen. In fact even a search for ‘danielle lloyd question time’ only finds her on the 5th item in the list! An article in the Birmingham Times.
Yes, of course, you all know him as the Level Design Director for the next Prince of Persia game, The Forgotten Sands. Or maybe you don’t. When I saw an interview with him on joystiq, I couldn’t help but see the ‘Roadshow’ MM working in the office, bobbing his head, geeing up the programmers with some jolly japes and the odd switch up into castrato for added laughs, and a little skipping to enthuse the graphic designers……..
A couple of others came to mind after these set me off:
The singer/songwriter/dancer has been written about more than enough I think, but I can’t help wondering what his namesake’s colleagues go through. Gen. Sir Michael Jackson has been in the news quite a lot for various reasons, and reached the very top of the military, garnering great respect. So it must have been hellish for any squaddies that met him face to face and had to resist the urge for a high pitched ‘ow’ and a grab of the crotch. I thought we’d got lucky when I briefly scanned the wiki page for Gen Sir MJ, but I think it’s a grammatical error: ‘Sir Mike has condemned the approach taken by former Donald Rumsfeld as ‘intellectually bankrupt’
A slight stretch there, but I had to put this one in, as unlike the previous selection, these two have actually done the same job as a Radio DJ, on the same station! Unless I imagined it, Steven Wright used to be on Radio 2, but the Internet seems to disagree. (Google, if you’re going to ask ‘do you mean’, give me a ‘no’ option as well….)
If you have spotify, Steven Wright has two albums on there. Very funny.
(I would have added Dickie Davi(e)s, but I think one differing spelling is all I can allow myself)
Given that the majority of my TV watching is done via the Internet, I’m not sure why I’ve seen so many end credits recently, but this was another. Not particularly interesting as I know very little about the Richard Bacon’s, TV presenter, or cameraman on Question of Sport.
After many years in U2, has also managed to make his way up through the divisions and also now plays for Carlisle United in League One, and has even scored a few this season.
I caught HARDtalk on BBC News Channel a couple of nights ago, and the guest was Heather Brooke. I’d never heard of her before, but she was described in the program’s intro as ‘the driving force behind the expose on British MPs expenses’. It was a very interesting interview (by Sarah Montague), well worth checking out here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00rvzhv/HARDtalk_Heather_Brooke_journalist_and_campaigner/ though as with most iplayer content, it won’t be there for long.
The other Heather Brooke you’ll have to look up for yourself. But not at work. Or in front of your parents. Or children (any children). Or religious people. In fact, maybe just don’t. After all, there must be loads of these matching names these days. Just find your own instead. It’s for the best.
The trailers for the Channel 4 series ‘The Restoration Man’ started a while ago, but I’ve only just caught up on watching the first couple of episodes. I quite enjoyed the last series George Clarke did, but was a bit wary about him jumping on the Grand Designs bandwagon and messing about with old houses. The thing that really stuck with me from that last series was the amount of Bi-Fold doors that got used. Virtually every show that I saw had them in. I started wondering whether he was getting a backhander from whoever made them, and checked the credits. And there was a bi-fold door company in the credits! *
So I was interested to see if the same would happen in his restoration jobs. I even posted a reply to Charlie Brooker’s @YHBW show on twitter suggestion they should look at it. The chances are pretty slim though, as I must have been in a period where my writing was severly lacking in detail and clarity: “@YHBW – if it’s on the same time, that house bloke who’s doing old places this time. See how many end up with bi-fold fucking doors.” Now, I’d get that, obviously, but I suspect I’d be in a rather small group.
The two episodes so far of “The Restoration Man” are on 4oD, so I watched them back to back to see if I was right. There was no mention of bi-fold doors in either show, and none in the credits, but I’m fairly certain that there were a load of the things themselves in the first show. The program was alright, but basically Grand Designs lite. George didn’t actually seem to do much, apart from the odd suggestion which the homeowners then ignored, and telling them how great it was at the end whereupon he presents them with a book of the history of the job, and the building prior to that. If anything, the guy in the second show who swung between ruining and renovating and old church is far more deserving of the title ‘restoration man’. He did the job virtually single handed, sourcing largely from ebay, and not a bifold door in sight!
The actual restorations didn’t look all that sympathetic to me, the one in the first episode in particular. I guess you need a certain combination of drive and ego that verges on madness or megalomania, so I just don’t get the desire to turn an old wreck into what is effectively a modern house with an old fashioned skin, with everything against you, ignoring all the much better value houses that are for sale with none of the traumas attached. Each to their own I guess.
I might revisit the styles of presenters these days some other time, but George Clarke seems to have been to the same training course as the rest. A lot of politicians have also spent some time at ‘whatever your point is, wave your hands about a lot’ college. Other things are more likely down to the program makers, and the presenters just get made to look like muppets. In episode one, doing the final piece to camera at two cameras, then using the footage from the one you aren’t looking at? Madness.
* As I’d remembered it from months ago watching the shows originally, I thought there was a stronger link to the bi-fold door people, but it was a thanks at the front end of the credits, along with other suppliers.
They had a fair hit rate though, considering some houses wouldn’t have worked with them:
Series 1 – 2 of 6
Series 2 – 6 of 11
Blah, blah, get round to doing stuff, blah, blah, stop procrastinating, blah, blah, make the most of the good days, etc. etc. yawn, etc……
Aiming for targets.
If it doesn’t come naturally to you, then it’s generally quite tedious.
And telling people you know just irritates them because they know as well as you do that you’ll run out of steam in five minutes, and it’ll be yet another elephant in a room already bursting at the seams.
This seems to be a little different though.
More like a cult. A nice cult. A cult that I don’t think knew it was a cult, and may not even believe that it is one. But it just might be.
It’s called TYSIC. Which is the Ten Year Self Improvement Challenge.
An idea Mark Watson came up with on his blog. Turning thirty and becoming a dad were involved in prompting the idea I think.
Anyway, I’m very late joining the group, but if your going to be a bit late for anything, it may as well be something that’s going to last a while.
Anyone who knows me, or has read this blog will probably guess that getting well will be priority number one on my list. Diagnosed with CFS, the made up cover up name that can potentially cover M.E. still, but also fibromyalgia, lupus, thyroid problems, adrenal problems, mitochondrial dysfuction, depression, post viral fatigue, and in the process gather up all sorts of other multi sympton issues, and dump everyone in one big basket where you tell them it’s all in the mind and deny them the treatment they need.
Awesome. For Insurers. And their pocket psychiatrists.
I was a bit surprised to be one of two M.E. sufferers (though I think I actually have something else from the above pick and mix, CFS was just an easy out for the ‘professionals’).
Enough of that though, what are the group planning on challenging themselves with?
Mostly writing. So, Mr. Watson should perhaps get himself a half share in a publishing company. Give it a few months first, see what the standard’s like, but certainly have the idea in the back of his mind. Or someone else in the group might do it. Or we could do it as a co-operative. Hmmm……
A lot just want the basics of a happy life with finding love and having kids cropping up a fair bit, though one of the most popular is to be doing a job that is loved. Most often writing.
Quite a few future speakers of Spanish. A shame, as I was thinking of suggesting Chinese as a language the group could take on, but not a single mention, with the closest being one plumping for Japanese. I wonder what ‘plumping’ would be in Japanese? Or Chinese, Spanish, Esperanto etc.
While my challenge isn’t to blog, I think I’ll do a few posts with more detail of the challenges I am setting myself. It also means I can stop rambling now, and finish with a list. Some of these overlap with what other people are doing, so maybe some collaboration would be in order? Again, not a specific challenge, but working with others in the group will be a secondary aim.
My challenge list:
Work out what’s wrong health wise and fix it, or at list improve it and boost energy levels.
Write a great novel.
Write a brilliant sit-com.
Write and record songs that people will love. (An e.p. a year. Not that they exist, but 4/5 songs)
Learn to network.
When well enough, pick up hands-on band management again.
(My Career as an Artist)
It’s a sad day when you have to retire from a much loved and passion filled career. The same can’t really be said when a potentially much loved and passion filled career that hasn’t yet started comes to an end. It’s sad, but not in the same way.
Such is the case with my career as an artist. I don’t draw. I tried to teach myself, and as someone who believed they couldn’t draw at all, I was quite impressed with the best of what I did. But it was painfully slow, and showed no signs of getting more natural, so I let it go. Similar story with painting, though mainly with the slowness. I wasn’t impressed with any of my paintings.
And so to sculpture. Well, I don’t know how I feel about my sculpting skills. I’ve never sculpted. In fact, I’m not sure if the idea I had in mind for a piece of art would even be classed as a sculpture at all.
I was going to create a huge head with all of the plastic packaging that life these days tends to produce. The head would be based on those created by the Rapanui. Probably more commonly known as Easter Island heads.
I was inspired by a series of videos I’d watched on the Internet a few months ago. Most of us are aware that we as a species are doing a lot of damage to our environment. Not destroying or killing the planet though. That’s a stupid idea. What we’re causing damage to is our own eco-system. Even if we manage to destroy ourselves and all the other animals and fish and plant life, the micro organisms will still be there, and will continue their process of evolution. They may or may not evolve into anything we’d recognise. They and the evolved future versions are hardly likely to care though are they? And the planet itself will just carry on. Until it doesn’t.
In our short lifetimes though, and more particularly, the most recent generation or two of our species, we’ve added a new pollutant. Not the only one, it’s one of many, but it’s one that’s overlooked by just about everyone, but is potentially as dangerous as many that people rant and rave over, if not worse. And as one in an arsenal of pollutants is a capable weapon in the race to destroy our habitat.
Until the damage that plastic is doing becomes more widely known, it’s never going to induce the fear and campaigning that the likes of nuclear waste, carbon emissions, CFC’s and the like do. But it could be worse than them. It’s actually poisoning the seas.
Yes, a throwaway line at the end of a paragraph there, so I guess I should reiterate that. Plastic pollution is poisoning the seas.
So to do my bit in raising awareness of this problem, I had the idea of saving all the plastic waste from anything I buy, and forming it into an artwork in the shape of an Easter Island head. Possibly even life size, though that would have taken some research on sizes, and as they are pretty big, probably many years of collecting packaging. And of course learning from scratch how to be a sculptor. A sculptor of plastic in fact.
But, after collecting four bin bags of plastic to use in the project, it sort of stalled. I haven’t been well, which would have paused any process I’d have been in the middle of, but really, I just lost the desire to do it. And also, felt that there are better things to be doing with my, now limited, energy. I have a tendency to have a lot of ideas, and then none got the time they deserve, so when it came to prioritising, the plastic head was too far down the list, and got shelved.
If anyone likes the idea, feel free to use it. I shouldn’t imagine anyone would of course, as the original creative idea in any art should come from the artist.
No, I don’t have the energy, or drive to make the Easter Island head a reality. Just another of many ideas filed in the ‘not enough…..’ tray. Whether that be enough time, energy, inclination, quality. It’s an overflowing tray.
Of course that doesn’t mean that the problem isn’t there anymore.
I don’t have the specific links to the videos I mentioned earlier, about the problems of plastic pollution, and the related issue of the North Pacific Gyre, or ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’, but a quick search found these, and a search on those relevant terms will link to as much information as anyone could need (like these from a very quick search):
Documentary in 3 parts:
I don’t feel that there’s anything I can do to help the environment. I don’t think there’s time to make things better in my lifetime. Some birds in the Pacific will die off. Some of the sea life will also become extinct. The damage done by plastic pollution will reach a tipping point. Whether that will be before or after the tipping points are reached for other pollutants, carbon dioxide, methane released from the Siberian permafrost, global warming generally, reduced biodiversity, mass bee population decreases, human overpopulation…… and on it goes. Lots of tipping points to reach, and we’ll reach them all.
All those past civilizations grew and then faded, the Rapanui among them. We’ll do the same, this time probably for the first time on a global scale. And then those that are left will start again. We’ll evolve again, and while we do, so will the rest of the life forms on the planet. Well, apart from those we’ve driven to extinction of course.
It’s just the way we are. Any altruism and civilised behaviour is just a thin veneer on one variety of primate and it’s natural animal instinct. You only need to watch the news and see what we’re capable of in ‘normal’ life, let alone under the pressure of conflict and disasters.
It’s cyclical. We’re nearing the end of our cycle. How soon? Who knows. It could be decades. There may be something the planet does before we even get there. For all the worry of our self inflicted problems and destroying our own habitat, one good volcanic eruption in the right place would top it all.
Until I get my proper writing head back on (struggling at the minute), here’s another silly picture for you: