A British-American bluestocking living in the UK writes about politics, pop culture, and emerging new paradigms as they unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. (New content.)

Saturday, 9 May 2015

The Look Says it All

Scottish National Party Leader, Nicola Sturgeon and David Cameron were united along with the other   party leaders at VE Day ceremonies in London today only hours after the Conservatives won a clear majority and Ms Sturgeon promised to join forces with Ed Miliband to vehemently "lock Cameron out of Westminster." Labour suffered huge losses and Ed resigned. And now, Ms Sturgeon had to be present at a ceremony with the man she wanted out of Westminster. As Hannah Montana would say: "Um, awk-wurrrd." The last time I saw a look like that from a woman was when Sister Elizabeth caught me wearing blush in sixth grade and banished me to the bathroom to "wash that paint off your face, now!" But I left sixth grade in a few months and never had to have her as a teacher again.  No such luck for the PM, unfortunately. If I were you, sir, I'd keep a spare set of keys under the potted plant next to the door to the House. Just in case.


(Daily Mail, Saturday, May 9th, 2015)

----




Friday, 8 May 2015

The Headline Says it All



----



Cameron Stuns and Wins A Clear Majority (At Last!)


Oh, it is nice to wake up to good news!

As you may have read, I went to bed in the wee a.m. fearing the worst. Nicola Sturgeon  was threatening to take Ed Miliband in hand  to "lock out" Cameron from Westminster if necessary---so heady was she from the astonishing trouncing that the SNP delivered in Scotland. The exit polls were not showing a clear majority. It looked grim when I turned in.

What was not seen in those exit polls was that the Lib Dem seats were falling just as fast as Labour in Scotland and they were going Conservative. Even the veteran Lib Dem Vince Cable thought to be a veritable "shoo-in" lost his seat to a Conservative. In another shocking defeat, Ed Balls the Shadow Government Chancellor, lost his seat to a Tory as well. There were Tory gains in seats that belonged to both Labour and the Lib Dems. This is what changed the results in the final count. No pundits predicted that the Lib Dems would lose so many once secure seats. Even UKIP had a strong showing winning more votes than either the Liberal Democrats or the SNP. It was a veritable free-for-all election. But in the end, the choice was clear: most Britons wanted to continue the rebuilding of the nation after the disastrous Labour government of before. We are a nation in recovery and the Tories have laid out a strong plan to keep us there. The people have spoken.

We have kept our Prime Minister and the Conservatives/Tories have a very clear majority, finally. No coalition anymore. A clear and present majority. 

At least, on paper, it looks smashing.
But there is still the problem looming north of Gretna Green.

Cameron will have little time  to rest as he is facing a bigger challenge than Ed Miliband and that is Nicola, Queen of Scots, who is ready to invade Westminster with her yellow troops in tow. The SNP won 56 of 59 votes humiliating Labour in Scotland. It was an unforeseen and unprecedented victory. Sturgeon was quite strident in her demands last night and she is a Scottish gale force to be reckoned with. More than that, she is very much in the E.U. encampment. (This has never made sense to me. The SNP wants to gain independence to then be enslaved by the E.U. But that is for another day.)

So the state of the Union is still in question. What will the SNP demand? Will Cameron have the stamina to keep us together as a United Kingdom with Scotland still in it?

It has been a clear and present victory but no one is breathing easy.
Not quite yet.

But we can all go have a cup of tea before we face the next round.

Well done, Dave.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Where Will the Brits Be Voting Today? Not the Polling Booth You Thought!

Voting in America is usually conducted  at a school or city hall. What to know where people in Britain vote? Pretty much anywhere. Just take a look...


Come over to the house to vote!

How about a port-a-loo?


                                         
                                                           Ride on by and vote, will you?

Rolling the vote out.


Vote for the cleanest party.

Let's Leave That UKIP Guy Off the Ballot, Shall We?

Election Day is young and there is trouble afoot already in Darlington Council. The name of David Hodgson (a candidate for MP for UKIP) was conveniently "left off" the ballot. That is correct. Ninety ballots were distributed to voters before the "error" was spotted in the Harrowgate Hill Ward of Darlington Council. It is reported that his name may have been omitted off other ballots in the constituency. Never mind that he was a viable candidate campaigning for weeks. Never mind that this may be a wee obstruction of justice. Had this been a Labour or Conservative candidate, the news media would be all over it and the local election would be cancelled and rescheduled. But because it is the Purple Party of the Personas Non-Gratas, no one blinked. Darlington Council could not even be bothered to issue an apology.

This isn't about UKIP or what it stands or does not stand for. It is a bigger issue than that. This is wrong. Any person who files and runs a campaign for MP deserves to have his name on the ballot. That is democracy in action. This is not a hanging chad, it is more a hanging Dad as he never even made it on to the paper ballot. It doesn't matter if the candidate insists on wearing a tinfoil hat and campaigning under the banner of the "Galactic Federation Party". His or her name should be on that ballot even if it is in Vulcan. This sort of shenanigans is something I would expect to see in some banana republic at the edge of nowhere, not in Great Britain. Perhaps we should have had Jimmy Carter monitoring ballots as he does in third world countries. Or actually, perhaps we should have had him at the printer's checking the proofs. An honest mistake? I think not. Shame on you, Darlington Council.


----



The Path of the Least Offensive: UK Goes to the Polls

Before I went on hiatus from the blogosphere in 2012,
it was known that I was a fan of Nigel Farage. Mr
Farage was the colourful, straight-talking British member of the European Parliament whose speeches were well documented and often went viral. He was also the bold leader of UKIP (the United Kingdom Independent Party) a party that he had resurrected from being a send-up and the brunt of jokes to a viable force to be reckoned with. And he did this by talking about the issues that no other politician wanted to touch...namely immigration reform, the big spending of big government (as under Labour) and the referendum on the EU which had swallowed up and economically destabilized once relatively independent countries (Ireland, Spain and Greece for example.)
He was controversial but he did not suffer fools gladly. I did not always agree with him but at least he was tackling the big issues and not cowering or using doublespeak. This was admirable, I thought.

The problem came when Farage and UKIP began to gain momentum. The party that was once thought of as "kooky" and laughable began to be threatening. There were defections from the Tory Party to UKIP and then things began to become more serious. It was at this time that cracks began to show. The party began to be infiltrated by hate-mongers plying their wares. I have often contended that some were deliberate plants. There were accusations of  xenophobia and racism. And some accusations were documented. Funnily enough, they came from recent members rather than the party stalwarts. Mr Farage's downfall was that he did not "clean house" so to speak. He did not address the issues before the miscreants' actions began to shroud the true message of the Party: no more big government, UK out of the EU except for trading, keep the pound, controlled point system immigration and the freedom for Great Britain to govern itself. In the end, the message was lost in a cloud of scuffle-dust from idiots who deserved to be shown the door. Farage did not do that. It probably will cost him some precious seats. I still like Farage. I did not like the descent into madness UKIP went through in the last months. I hope he saves what he can and rebuilds a new boat on dry land and tosses the pirates who co-opted his party, out to sea. There is good in his original message. I do not agree with all his issues (I am a social liberal) but he did have the courage to speak out when it was pablum that came out of the other candidates. If he can update the social policies he espouses, UKIP can find itself again.

So we are really faced with three front runners in today's election: David Cameron (Conservative/Tory), David Milliband (Labour) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat). They are all public school boys. Yes, even Milliband. Farage was not. Interesting how that is. The public school networks extend far into every area of Great Britain's political and business life.

It is obvious to me that the UK is in a better place economically than it was five years ago under Labour. It would be ridiculous to say otherwise. There were cuts to social programs which were not welcomed by the people who had come to depend on them under the Labour government. Some were painful. But more jobs were created and the economy rallied. Cameron is instilling new tax cuts and programs to get more young people on the property ladder. But he has waffled on the EU referendum (yes we will, er, no we won't, yes, er no, what should I say to get elected again?)  He has not been the strongest leader and his bid to be liked has often overcome his need to take strong stands on terrorism, immigration and the EU. He is wooden in his delivery, a bit lackluster. But so was Harry Truman, right? And this isn't "X Factor." However, he began to get louder this week in his attempt to be a bit more "passionate" which he interpreted as just yelling a bit louder in his speeches. Knowing British men as I do, passion is not on the table or any other piece of furniture. He should have just closed his eyes and thought of  Britain like the rest of us British women. Good try, Dave. I do love Sam his wife, though. She is a hippie apasionata at heart. Maybe she should stand as PM next?

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, (a socialist by any other name still reeks) promises to take us back to the Blair days. Those halcyon, sit-on-the-stoop-smoking, dig-in-your-pocket-for-loose-change days of  pork scratching on toast dinners?  Remember those? The days when it took two years to get a passport back from the Home Office? The days when no jobs were being created, but you could still live on a tiny check and lose your sense of self-worth and self-governance?  The days when you called the police to report a burglary and they showed up two weeks later and at your neighbour's house? The days when Tony got richer and bought  and sold more properties than Kirstie and Phil and became a Catholic  and the rest of Great Britain was slipping into oblivion?  More of that with Miliband! Hooray!  Or a least that is what I have been able to surmise because honestly, I still cannot understand everything he says. I am not talking about content here. It's the delivery. How could  Labour spend so much on an American  manager (David Axelrod who ran the Obama campaign) and still have Miliband sounding like "Yosemite Sam"? There will be more than (th)ufferin' (th)uccota(th) if this man is elected. His American-style posturing during the debates was cringe-worthy. It is not his style.His style is no-style and that is at least, honest. He should have simply spoken as Ed not Eduardo the Magnificen(th). Ed, I liked your brother. But we know what you did to him. That did not bode well. And never mind about how you want to have a coalition with the SNP. Labour used to operate with deep seated values for the good of the people and their ideas carried some merit. What on earth has it become with you? A fantastical Willie Wonka World. Or as you would say...a (th)antastical Withy Wonka Wod(th). No, Ed. No.

And Nick Clegg. Oh, Nick. See Nick. See Nick run. Run, Nick, run. And that's about all I can muster at this late hour to write about Clegg and his lovely Sra Cleggista who fancies the EU too much to be comfortable. Nick-Get-the-Party-Started was the first to arrive in 2010 with bells on. And now, no one is able to get him out the door fast enough. He is clinging to the half empty onion dip dish and mumbling:"I coulda been a contenda..."

It isn't exactly a three man lineup that will shake the world . It is more an election of rag-tag doublespeaking, promise-making public school boys who are still out of touch with reality.
Among these three, there really is only one choice. Cue up "Woodstock", drag on your wellies,  at least one member of the family is in touch with the peeps. Too bad she isn't in the running. So
we will have to close our eyes, think of Britain and yell with passion as we cast our vote.



Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The Postscript on the Eve of the Election

I find myself a bit apprehensive on the eve of the General Election here in Great Britain. Last time round, the choice was clear. We needed a drastic change. This time, we do not need a drastic change, but the man in charge has not lived up to all his promises. He could have done more. Do we hold his feet to the fire? Yes. Do we then, feet ablaze, throw him out with the bath water? Looking at the other choices, I hope not. 
This is the first general election in which I stand as a British citizen. I have been away from this site for more than three years. This is my first posting since coming back. These three years were filled with personal losses which led to a period of quiet reflection and a self-imposed exile. In the metaphorical desert, there is often a lot of time to think. The things you thought were once important seem meaningless. And the things you took for granted become important. In the end, I surrendered to all of the personal changes and just spent time reading, writing, thinking, tending to the wildlife on the property and yes, grieving. There was a lot of that, too.
Through all this, I found that I became increasingly more cognisant of what it meant to be "British", and what it meant to be an American expat. I began seeing things not as an immigrant anymore, but as someone who deeply cared about the future of Great Britain. I even watched the World Cup and was actually interested.  I still, however, feel in my heart a longing for my home country.   I keep viewing the rights of Americans being eroded by the Patriot Act (which the President promised to abolish) and I see that rather than becoming a  nation united because of the revolutionary and historical election of its president, it has become more divided. No one would have predicted that. Instead, the United States has been plunged into the unrest that was prevalent in the 1960's. How did that happen?  More than that, I see that the constitution which has dictated freedom to the nation for centuries is now being dismissed and trampled. One  sees things more clearly when one is away from the chaos. This has been my vantage point from across the pond. I liken it to spotting who is definitely "offsides" when you can view the football game from the bleachers, rather than from the ground. I have had a view of America from the bleachers for twelve years now. It has not been a fair game. No one is winning. It is as if the great country of my birth is sleepwalking in darkness. Everyone wants to know what the Kardashians are doing but no one wants to know what bills are being passed through Congress without being read. The Kardashians, to their credit, are emblems of the American Dream made good. But that their antics take precedence over the seemingly indifference to the erosion of civil liberties is quite another (alarming) issue.

In the past few years, I have seen good changes come to Great Britain. It has again become fashionable to be proud of one's country here. The sale of Union Jack flags has been brisk and flag-waving (once the strength of the "silly Americans") has been taken up with (gentle, mind you) fervour. The most moving example of this outpouring of British patriotism was the beautiful display of poppies honouring the First World War at the Tower of London. The ceramic red flowers, one for each casualty of that War, were resplendent in their beauty. It was difficult not to become emotional when one gazed at the scarlet field of flowers tumbling down the Tower and onto the grounds. Millions of people filed by during the exhibition and many were in tears. The British public has come to embrace the strengths of its country and what it means to "be British" as it grapples with the ever looming intrusion of the European Union. The British pound is still strong against the Euro. The British are very vocal on "non-GMO" foods, they attempt to buy local and support their farms and one can find organic foods readily available at all supermarkets without having to go to the health store (or Whole Foods). This is still, alas, not the case in America which is deep in the grips of "Round-Up" debates and still being told that Monsanto "Frankenfoods" are good for you. So were cigarettes till we found out the truth that had been hidden for decades. We can believe the corporation propaganda or do the research for ourselves. Sorry, Monsanto, I did my research. Keep your Frankenfoods out of Great Britain... and America, for goodness sakes, please wake up and take back your fields.

Another marvel in Great Britain is still the NHS (the National Health Service). Yes, it continues to be fraught with scandals (much of them having to do with the elderly and the overpadded salaries  for administrators and doctors). Despite all that drama (name one bureaucratic organization in the world that does not suffer from that sort of thing) it still manages to provide free health care for all. Let me state that again. It is free health care for all. No one is forced to buy a policy they cannot afford or go into debt to have a procedure.  If Richard Branson went to the NHS he would be treated for free and I would be treated for free and so would the next person in the queue . Is this how it is in the United States under the new system of healthcare? No. The NHS and I have not been the best of friends (I was in one of the worst hospitals, unfortunately)  but it still amazes me that it continues to do what it does. The NHS has been good to other people I love and for that, I am grateful.

All in all, Great Britain has been ticking along and making great strides since the last election. The economy has improved greatly, there is hope in the air and a sense that we will overcome even we see darkness unfold in parts of the world.  As we go to the polls in about 48 hours, it will be interesting to see  what will happen. The election may prove to be a close one.   The irony is that Great Britain seems to be discovering more and more  of what democratic values are and how they must be protected and preserved from the encroachment of the EU. Not since the War have the British people been so aware of their precarious place on the globe but they still go from strength to strength. There are people still alive who remember the War that almost obliterated Great Britain. And in America, bastion of all things democratic, more civil liberties are being taken away seemingly unnoticed. Why? Is it because democracy has never been fully threatened?  Perhaps it is being taken for granted.  As I write on the eve of the UK General Elections, I only hope that peace and freedom and democracy will prevail in both of my homelands.

*(The last actual documented war on US soil was during WWII and known as the Aleutian Islands Campaign in 1942. It took 1400 casualties in a year of fighting.)


Saturday, 2 May 2015

Perfect Couple, Perfect Princess, Perfect Ankles

Well, the wait is finally over. She certainly took her time. The UK has been in the grips of  "baby-mania" for weeks. The whisperings that Annie Sloan pink paints had been ordered for Anmer Hall (the Cambridge's residence) were not just rumours after all. The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a daughter, this morning in London. And she was presented to the public, by her parents on the way out of the hospital only ten hours later. There was not one puffy ankle or eyebag on the Duchess (yes, I know life is unfair to the rest of us) and no sleepy seeds on the Princess. Dad looked like he had just played an easy round of golf. Yes, it truly did appear that the bun really had been in an oven... albeit probably one at the Langham not the Aga at home. Or perhaps someone caught sight of a stork above the hospital? No one looked the worse for wear, that is for sure. Most Dads emerge with day old beards, a glazed look and mothers appear as if they have smeared Vaseline in their hair and are disoriented in daylight. Either way, the new princess is cute as a button, I have to say. You sure stole thunder from the elections, little one. Perhaps the Princess of Wales has reincarnated. She had a lot of unfinished business after all. This babykins is one to watch. 

May your road be smooth and your troubles be few, sweetheart.
That is a wish for all the babies in the world, too.



----



Sunday, 3 June 2012

Addyman Takes on the Enemy: Kindle

In late March, a wonderful antiquarian bookshop near my home closed its doors for good after being open for decades. I was extremely disappointed as I had spent many an afternoon browsing for good books. I felt I had lost an old friend. Apparently, the closing of the secondhand or antiquarian bookshop is becoming more common. It's a very sad state of affairs for a booklover like me.


Derek Addyman (center) with Kindle gravestone
One of my favorite haunts in England is Hay-On-Wye, the quaint (and premier) "booktown" in the world. Every year, at this this time, the famous Hay-On-Wye Book Festival takes place with talks given by many literary luminaries from across the world. I have to say that I have never come back from a trek to Hay without a huge load of books and some of them have been real treasures. Hay-on-Wye is a town built on the selling of secondhand books and antiquarian books which are a passion of mine. For me, coming to Hay-On-Wye more than a decade ago was the equivalent of going to Disneyland for a child. I was in book heaven. Each subsequent trip has had the same amount of excitement of "the hunt" for that obscure book, for that long-forgotten title that I might find at the bottom of a box. While at university and again for a bit after, I also worked as an independent bookseller and manager of bookshops. Even when the independent bookseller was in the majority (no Borders and no Barnes and Noble on every street corner) bookselling was a labour of love. It is even more so now. There is no doubt that the future of the physical book, and subsequently, the independent bookseller is in peril. And nowhere is this being felt than in the winding streets of Hay-On-Wye.

 One of the most gracious booksellers  in Hay is a friend, Derek Addyman and Derek had a few choice words to say at the opening of this year's festivities. Addyman owns three bookshops in the town. "Kindles have no place at this festival which is supposed to be a celebration of the written word--and books. Booksellers here definitely want them banned. You see people walking around with Kindles and they are like robots in another world." Addyman spoke out citing how five of the thirty independent bookshops (which have characterized the famous town) have had to close down with the advent of the electronic media. "Books are sociable," said Addyman "and people stop to talk to each other about them. Kindles are just a phase and they won't last. They are just our enemy."  Addyman has been a bookseller in Hay-On-Wye for over 25 years. He really is known as the patriarch of the book community. "Books are sexy, " he contends. " A Kindle is a screen, not a book and it is not sexy." Addyman led a parade with a gravestone marked "RIP" and a Kindle attached to it. 

I don't think I could have said it better. When I was a girl, I spent my summers holed up in the stacks of the local library because I loved books. I loved their colours, their smell and the way that the pages crinkled when I turned them. I travelled all over the world from that tiny town in the middle of nowhere and I dreamt of the day I would one day see the places I read about in person.  I see this same love for books in my daughter, who turned to me once when she was a child and said, "I love the way the pages of a Puffin book feel." That's how she still feels about old books despite the fact that she owns a Kindle. When I asked her about that, she said that it was a good "backup" and less cumbersome to take on vacation. But she agreed that as tech-savvy as she is, nothing would ever replace a real book. I have lived in many places and travelled to many more, and the first place I look for is a local independent bookshop or antiquarian bookshop.

 The one bit of silver in the dark biblio cloud for the shops in Hay-On-Wye and worldwide are that the antiquarian or out-of-print book is not readily available on Kindle. I won't even go into the "print on demand" antiquarian books which are simply ghastly.

Addyman is right, a Kindle isn't sexy. It's not even close.






Party Like it's 2012! The Brits Pull Out the Stops for HRH

Typical of the decorations up across Britain
When the going gets tough, the Brits just throw a party. And the Diamond Jubilee promises to be the biggest party of the new millenium. The Royal Wedding of Kate and William last year will pale in comparison to all the pomp that is surrounding the celebration of the 60th year of the reign of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second. She is the only monarch other than Queen Victoria to have reigned this long. And whether one is a Royalist or a non-Royalist, whether you think the Royals are irrelevant or part of what drives tourism to this big island, one cannot but be a bit astounded by the embracing of this celebration and of Elizabeth. She is an institution and the only stable figure during sixty years of enormous change in Great Britain. Think of this: if a British person was born after 1952, she is the only monarch that they have known.

I was here for the Golden Jubilee in 2002, and it had none of the same passion. There was some celebrating, but not on the scale that we will see this time. Because the Queen has now surpassed the record of all monarchs except for Victoria for the longest reign, they are pulling out all the stops. In 1947, after the death of her father, she made a promise to the British people: "My whole life whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service...God help me to make good my vow and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it." She has kept her promise and the British people are well aware that in a world of celebrity, she has done it with a total lack of vanity and often through great personal challenges. She has also vowed not to abdicate, but to continue to reign for the rest of her days. Now, that's a real sense of duty.
I can't even properly describe what Britain looks like right now. For almost a month, Union Jacks (the red, white and blue) have popped up all over the cities. There are flags everywhere: hanging out of people's windows, fluttering on cars and in front gardens. The Union Jack is now on hats, mugs, tablecloths, faces, and there is bunting strung on trees and between houses all across the country. One young couple painted the facade of their house in a Union Jack. 2012 bonfires will be lit all across the island in public places and back gardens so that they will be visible from outer space. There are block parties planned all over the country with 9,500 street closures applied for in England and Wales alone. Great Britian has become mad for the red-white-blue. The great flotilla on the Thames is also promising to be a huge spectacular.  I can't help but smile. It's impossible for me to not feel a bit of British pride myself. After all, this has been my home for the last decade. But there is another reason.

The joy that I feel in my heart when I see this great outpouring of British pride is that one Union Jack is one less European Union flag. Seeing this great display of the flag that symbolizes the glory of the sovereignty of Great Britain clearly shows that the British are tired of all the machinations of what is happening in Brussels. They are very well aware that they are not Europeans they are British first. And as the Eurozone crisis deepens and Europeans begin to cross the channel and invest in Great Britain, it is quite obvious that this is probably the most secure place to be (except, perhaps for Switzerland). Despite the naysayers, the monarchy continues to be a great drawing force for tourism and goodwill across the world. Yes, she may only be a figurehead but she continues to be a uniting force.  The Queen herself has always steered clear of controversy (except for a blip during the late Princess of Wales' death) and has remained steadfast and true to the British people. She has always remained above the fray. And despite the disassembling of the world around her, she continues to be the one unchanging face.  In a world of quick fixes, tweets and the ephemeral...she stands solid. Not bad for a woman who stands regally at a breath over five feet tall. I think she deserves a party.

Honestly,perhaps the whole of Britain needs a party to brace themselves for the year to come. With Europe in the greatest turmoil since World War II,  the future seems uncertain. For now, raising a glass to the one constant seems most appropriate. And throwing in a bit of British red-white-blue can't hurt. No Brussels blue to be seen...hallelujah!

One of the many British block parties being thrown across the country.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Sixty Years and a Smile: The Diamond Jubilee Is Underway

Monday, 21 May 2012

How Corporate Culture Destroys the Innocent

A few years ago, in a very elegant hotel in Hong Kong, I was privy to a conversation between three or four middle management executives. After getting sloshed on a few drinks, two of them started to tell stories about how business deals were struck in a recent trip to a Pacific Rim country. They told how they had gone to a business meeting that was followed by a banquet and that after they had eaten, they were greeted with a parade of prostitutes and told to "pick the one they wanted" to seal the deal. I remember feeling sick to my stomach. It probably wouldn't have mattered to me much, except that at the time, I was in a relationship with one of the people present at that meeting (who was sober, thankfully.) I remember images flashing through my mind, of countless business trips when he had "fallen asleep and just forgotten to call." I wondered what was truth and what wasn't.  It was on that night in that hotel in Hong Kong that I knew I wasn't in Kansas anymore, I realized at that moment that I had possibly walked into a big rabbit hole. I was being introduced  to the  behaviour of a  corporate culture that had its own moral code: make money and make it in any way possible. There is a whole set of rules in this corporate culture: the rules of no rules. It was every man for himself and any excess was fine as long as you could write it off as a "business expenditure" and make sure that you "sealed the deal." In the next years, I was introduced to the "half-truth" (what you say isn't false, but you aren't telling the whole story), the world of the adult bully and the world of "just look the other way and don't ask questions." The idea of "God" is a myth. Accountability? Not an option. If you can get away with it, do it. I wish that I could say that I was just an observer, but I wasn't. I was a victim of the best. I learned that "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" wasn't just a catchy motto. I learned that it extended to other cities:  what happens in Beijing, Singapore, Seoul, Munich, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Tokyo (and everything in between) stays there, too...and sears through any relationship attempting to be built on truth and integrity.

I always thought that gangs were found in the streets, marking up neighborhoods with grafitti and wearing distinct hoodies. There are more nefarious gangs and these are the men (and some women, I have to say) who wear their suits and ties, wheel and deal and run over anyone they can in their quest for power and money. When we talk about the "banksters" who were responsible for the collapse of the world economy, they are just the tip of the iceberg, underneath the frigid waters are millions of lesser executives in all sorts of positions all around the globe in all sorts of corporations who prop up their "bigger bosses." What I saw, too, was how chasing the "big deal" was never about the profit, it was really about the sport.  Successful corporate culture is always about seeing how much you can get away with...on every level possible. Can you win the largest contract to get the promotion? Can  you find the next company that will be open to your pitch? Can you hire someone that has good qualifications and a good set of pins so you can possibly sleep with her on business trips, even though you have a perfectly wonderful wife back home? Can you be subtle enough to do a good enough job to topple your adversaries in the office as covertly as possible? It's all in the name of the game, and if you want to play, you have to play dirty on all counts, don't you? How big can you lie and get away with it?  That's the game...that's the sport...that's the seamy side of how corporate culture works.

The newspapers are always filled with corporate bosses and/or men who have been toppled. And invariably, it is usually because he has been "caught cheating". He has either been caught cheating on his taxes, cheating in a business deal or most likely, cheating on his wife. They don't see anything wrong with what they do. To them, this is all just part of the way things work in their world. They live in "Never Never Land": Never tell the whole truth, Never rat on your colleagues personal indiscretions (or they may rat on you) and never, ever get caught in the lies you tell, no matter what. And because of these "unwritten rules of no rules", the families involved with these people and caught in this web suffer the most. Many a woman has spent sleepless nights while her husband is away on business trips where there is no accountability at all for his actions. And because many men in these structures are often cold, ruthless and without compassion, they really have no feelings or emotions around the nefarious things they do.

Studies have shown that corporate culture attracts, breeds and fosters people with disturbing tendencies bordering on sociopathic/psychopathic. Dr John Clarke, author of  the book, Working with Monsters talks about how corporations reward the very behaviour that can victimize their colleagues and families. He writes: "When the victim publicly suffers, the psychopath derives enjoyment from seeing evidence they’re able to hurt and conquer another person.There’s an absolute lack of conscience, lack of remorse, and lack of guilt. They’re manipulative, superficially charming, and pathological liars. They like conning people and there’s a grandiose sense of self-importance.”  The workplace, according to Dr Clarke, seems to be the place where this type thrives. “People actually like them,” he says. “They use their excellent verbal abilities to create this false persona and people find them exciting, dynamic and engaging, and they use that to camouflage the torture they’re inflicting."  If the corporate culture rewards this behaviour (think Gordon Gecko) can you imagine the havoc this personality creates at home?  According to Dr Clarke, this personality disorder cannot even be rehabilitated. "Rehabilitation programs teach them better social skills, and the psychopath then uses those better social skills to target victims more effectively.”  What happens to their victims?  Victims of these people usually experience depression and suicidal tendencies simply because they continue to get caught in the web of the manipulation. And the more one is traumatized by one of these glib mad men, the harder it is to get away. Corporations like these guys and hire them because they don't care who they hurt and what they need to do to get the job done. Get it?

Usually, this personality is found in someone who felt powerless in childhood and at some point had a significant experience where he realized that he could exert power over someone and it was like a drug. The craving for power and the ability to control and manipulate people is their drug of choice. The sad thing is that they use the same tactics (charm, effusiveness, grandiosity) to lure people in. By the time their victim has figured them out, they are in quicksand. And when you get wise to their tactics, they feign remorse and "promise to change" but they never do. They simply reel you in tighter with their lies.

Corporations continue to thrive because they reward this behaviour. They send their top people to places where they can have their "perks" and no one will be the wiser. They put their executives in positions where the family is always secondary to profit. And usually the men they hire are fine with that. Who wouldn't want to be at a resort for a week where no one knows what they do?  Families and marriages and relationships are destroyed because of the complete lack of accountability, morality and integrity on a personal level. The corporation rules. Everyone and everything else is collateral damage.

About the only bit of karmic retribution is that sexual harrassment lawsuits against bosses are on the rise. The boss makes his move, she thinks it might help her career. She has second thoughts and slaps him with a lawsuit which will give her enough money to make her own future elsewhere. Then there is the other scenario ( which takes a bit longer). The boss sleeps with his colleague and she thinks it is "forever" and he never leaves his wife. He thinks he has the best of both worlds. Miss Mistress gets fed up and rewards him with a day in court. He insists it was "consensual" but he can't really prove it. He loses his job and tanks his career. His colleague takes half his pension. All for a "bit of fun". Prostitutes abroad also are raking it in. They have figured out they can get photos of their clients credit cards on their I-Phones while he is in the shower. If they are quick, they can make off with his Rolex watch and a buttered croissant off the breakfast tray and exit the hotel before he can towel himself off. That night, she will be counting her pounds, laughing at how she duped the "stupid man at the bar."  And the guy in the shower thinks he has really scored big and more than that, his wife will never know That's how the sense of grandiosity in these men plays out. They cannot see their own dark shadows. It's always said that the wife is the last to know. Wives know the truth: that they are the first to know. It's just that they keep hoping they are wrong and it takes time for them to say something. In the end, the house of cards comes crashing down. That's the law of karma. No one is safe from that immutable law. Even if it takes years, there will be a great reckoning.

So, when people vilify the "banksters" and shout about how economies are collapsing, it is important to note that the whole system is built on lies, manipulation and deceit...on all levels. It doesn't just take investors as victims...it takes whole families and plunders them, too. Even the innocent get tied to the railroad tracks in the pursuit of profits.

But you know... the perpetrator doesn't feel a thing. He's hardwired to hurt without compassion. That's why he is indispensible to the company.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Batten Down The Hatches: Eurozone Storm is Brewing

In the UK, at the moment, the average Brit is still happily eating his Marmite thrilled that "Pudsey the Dancing Dog" won "Britain's Got Talent". Or that the Queen's Diamond Jubilee will give them some days off work and a chance to flirt with their neighbour down the road at the thousands of street parties to be held all over Great Britain in early June. People are getting out their Union Jack bunting and saving their money for lager. Lots of it. We are in a recession, but we are steering the course. For now.

But across the English Channel, there is a huge storm brewing. The Eurozone is in its worst crisis ever.  Democracy was born in Greece, but it lost it somewhere along the way...and it  has voted against the austerity program that was presented to them by the European Union.  Did it matter? No, it did not. Because they are now card-carrying members of the EU, the vote was simply for show. It's rather like being on the Titanic, and the captain offers you a martini. You are going down, one way or the other and a stiff drink isn't going to make it any better. The last report is that Angela Merkel is going to meet with  EU officials to push for another Greek vote. Do they think that twisting Greece's arm until they vote "Yes" is going to change the dire circumstances of a country that is falling down a very dark hole at the moment? Not a chance. The only hope for Greece is to get the hell out of ... well....Brussels.

Greece was prospering and living well within its means. Then, it joined the European Union and began to "live large" spending huge amounts of money (handed out by the EU with little or no accountability.) Paying taxes (for example) was optional for the middle and upper classes. Corruption in all sectors was rampant. The retirement age was lowered to 50 and most professionals could retire receiving their last year's yearly wages as an annual pension. It was the "good life" without having to pay much into the system. It was everything the EU stands for but totally out of the closet and in full view. It was also the most flagrant demonstration of all that is wrong with this one currency and this one European government. Greece is looking like the big gate-crasher at the elegant wedding. And she isn't going down without a some plates smashing, either. The EU is not going to be able to usher her quietly out of the ballroom. Greece is uproariously angry at the new measures of austerity that are being implemented. One might say that they deserve it for being so careless and reckless in their spending. But, the EU was reckless in not curbing what was happening. That's what goes on when  you attempt to rule a nation from some far away place and dictate law to its people without their true consent. The bureaucracy is so huge, no one knows what the other one is doing, until it is too late.

The worse thing is the impact that it has had on Greek children. Children who were once well-cared for by the "system" are now being abandoned by their parents and/or sent to orphanages because there is nothing to feed them as there are no jobs for their parents. It is one of the greatest tragedies to hit the country since the last War. The Greeks had come to depend so much on the "net of the big Daddy EU" that it has absolutely no other way of surviving now that its coffers are empty. This is the long-term effect of what the EU has been stealthily implementing: a total dependency on a central government. You have only to look to see the grand failure in Greece, to view how dependency on the State takes away the will, knowledge and foresight of a people to fend for themselves.

The French have entered the fray. Rather than re-electing Sarkozy (a conservative) they elected Francoise Hollande last week. Hollande is a big, free-wheeling socialist who promised to spend, spend, spend France out of its problems. He made promises to hire thousands of new teachers, lower the retirement age, create 150,000 public sector jobs. Of course, he never stated where this money was coming from. France is, at the moment, an aging madam who can't get a desperate man to buy her a drink. What the election of Hollande has done, however, is to let the EU know that its "austerity measures" are not going down well with anyone. If Hollande succeeds in implementing even a small percentage of his big wheeling-dealing spending, it will shake the rest of the already compromised EU and definitely sever alliances with Merkel. Merkel and Sarkozy were "going steady" so to speak. They were the Prom King and Queen of the European Union. The King got ousted and the Queen Angela needs a new date. I doubt Hollande is even going to ask for a dance.

But the problems in France are not the only ones. Portugal received a £78 billion dollar bailout only last year and raised taxes to try to stave off the imploding euro. And Spain isn't far behind with its 25 percent unemployment rate and a debt of £184 billion. Spain's collapse is the most worrying to the British because it has close ties to a lot of British businesses. It is the fourth largest economy in the Eurozone.

The most worrying aspect to all of the happenings across the channel is that the Brits are not prepared at all for what might be the inevitability of the collapse of the Euro. Great Britain is entrenched in the system and has already spent millions bailing out other countries. The greatest mistake is that the bureaucrats in Brussels kept telling everyone the ship was not sinking while they were secretly manning the lifeboats. They were not courageous enough to say, "This is not working, let's tell the truth."  It's hard to tell the truth, when life is so blooming great in your position of power. The little girl in Greece who lost her parents is just a statistic. Power is the greatest drug. Money and power? In Brussels, they are an addiction.

The last time that there was a financial collapse in Europe was during the early 1930's. This led to the formation of  various extreme movements including fascism. The fear is that this may happen again.  Desperation often leads to very desperate measures.

The finance ministers are getting together again, for another round of crisis talks. Talk, talk, talk, talk.  Basically, Merkel talks and everyone else is forced to listen. Mr Cameron, how about just looking her in the eye and telling her the truth when you meet with her?  Tell her that the one currency is not the currency for true democratic states. That in order for you to save Great Britain, you are going to push for  referendum and give the Brits a chance to decide how to proceed before the dominoes tumble. (And if you need some incentive, look behind you, see that man with the wild blond hair on that bicycle...he is catching up with you.)

Where is Churchill when we need him?


Monday, 14 May 2012

"You Say: 'Wine'--I Say:'Fruit Derived Alcoholic Beverage'-- Let's Call the Whole Thing Off!

A winery in Kent has been forbidden to sell its Malbec  because of an EU ruling which states that any wine not produced in the region in which it is grown must be called a "fruit derived alcoholic beverage".  Therefore, all bottles of  Chapel Down Malbec  are no longer available for sale. The winery has 1,100 bottles of wine it must now simply give away because of some inane ruling by the Brusselistas. The bottles retailed at £15. "The wine is sensational," remarked Frazer Thompson, CEO of the company."But we now have 1,100 bottles which are illegal to sell or label as a wine or Malbec." The Malbec grapes had been flown from Argentina to Kent where they were aged in American oak barrels for nine months.

The EFD  (Europe Freedom Democracy) group which counts UKIP as a majority member decided to hold a "Non-Tasting Wine Event" on Europe Day which was May 9th to protest the silly ruling. "Europe Day" is some contrived holiday to celebrate the European Union...this Union that has brought us more  nightmares than Jung would ever have time to analyze in thirty lifetimes. And it is also an excuse to leave chambers early of course... as is "European Stomp Spanikopita Day", "European Mountain Yodeling Day" and "European Clog Tossing Day" and just about any other holiday that might allow ministers to take a few days off for R&R on monies provided by government coffers from strangled nations that are collapsing as we speak. (Can you hear the plates smashing in Greece? It's not from dancing, I promise you.)

Ironically, the formidable wine was not even called a "Malbec" or "wine" though it was introduced to the UK on "World Malbec Day" in April. It was called simply "An English Salute." I think we should all give the EUP an "English Salute". (You may choose an appropriate and dignified digit of your choice, of course.)

Now, please, won't you pass the "fruit derived alchoholic beverage"?  Let's toast to sheer stupidity.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Prince Charles: The Weather Report

The worldwide recession has affected so many...apparently, even the least likely Brits are having to moonlight these days.

Britain's Top Dog!

Simon Cowell finally got his wish. He always wanted a dog to win "Britain's Got Talent" and little Pudsey delivered. Because I love dogs and think Pudsey is a real star, I am posting the winning performance.
Please support your local dog rescue. And if your heart is set on a particular breed, every breed has its own rescue service (i.e. "Yorkshire Terrier Rescue" or "Airedale Terrier Rescue" or "Scottish Terrier Rescue" etc) You can find them on the internet. Millions of dogs are looking for homes because of the economic downturn. Keep them from being euthanized. If you cannot adopt, please send a donation to a rescue or think about volunteering with them.  My life has been enriched with the many rescue dogs I have had over the years.

(In memory of  Wilma and Annie, two of the best dogs ever.)


Thursday, 23 February 2012

There Is Nothing Like This Dame!


Helena, how do I love thee?
Let me count the ways... I love thee to the depths and heights your hats can reach.
I love thee for never succumbing to the whims of the fickle Fates called fashionistas. I love thee for always waltzing against convention and choosing to live life by your own rules. I love thee for being an out-of-the-box mum raised by an equally out-of-the box mum and doing it without apologies. I love thee for choosing to live next door to your husband (director Tim Burton) and not in the same house (an arrangement I have championed all my life).  I love thee for simply being one big magnificent
fabulous woman of talent and je ne sais quoi (but no one else knows either).
And if  God choose, I shall but love thee better when I can wear a hat with as much aplomb as you.

------
"A Room with a View" (1986)
Alice's "Red Queen"
You know her, you love her (or perhaps she isn't your cup of tea) the irrepressible Helena Bonham-Carter. I first caught glimpse of her in the beautiful Merchant and Ivory film, "A Room With A View" (1986) where she delivered a polished performance that was beyond her years. It was difficult to believe that she was then only considered an ingenue, still learning the ropes.  She has consistently delivered outstanding performances throughout her career. And she has been given accolades from the industry winning numerous BAFTA awards including Best Actress for her stellar performances in "Wings of the Dove" and "The King's Speech". It was a role which left a very favourable impression on Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth.  You have seen Helena looking the worse for wear in "Sweeney Todd" and less than gorgeous as the "The Red Queen" in Tim Burton's re-telling of the children's classic, "Alice in Wonderland."She has been twice nominated for the coveted Oscar. Helena Bonham-Carter is one of the few actresses who doesn't have much of  an ego when it comes to leaving the glamour at the door in a movie. She will wear whatever make-up, hair and costume the role calls for and doesn't seem to care if her "correct angle" is the one being filmed. She is, what I consider, an actor's actor. She is a stunning beauty who doesn't care how she looks on film as long as she delivers an authentic piece. But actually, truth be told, she seems to not care how she looks at all , on-screen or off-screen, thereby flying in the face of convention in a vocation where looks have always reigned supreme.

 Second to her performances,  Helena has often been in the headlines for her rather eccentric lifestyle accented by her unconventional wardrobe. She dresses to please herself (and not designers) often wearing combinations that shock, not in their lack of fabric (as with most stars) but in their absolutely over-the-top unorthodox mix. And she will often top it with some hat that she looks like she pulled out of grandma's closet.
Elena and Helena
 And if you think for one moment that her wacky dress sense has been honed simply out of her imagination, you must look to the influence
of her mother, Elena Propper de Callejon,  a French Spanish psychotherapist who has spurned the O.A.P. polyester pants and orthopedic shoes in favour of a bit of flamboyance in her silver years. She certainly will not go silent into the night (and good for her!) 


Helena and Little Nell
Then, of course, if fashion can be passed on from generation to generation, it's possible that daughter, Nell, is already an anti-fashionista in training as seen on a recent outing with her mother. Besides, how cool is a mom who dresses up just like you in pantaloons to go shopping for a treat? (It works when you are under five, after that, it's risky. There may be a point where a child will not find it cool. Ask my daughter.)

So, why all the fuss, why am I wasting so much blogging space on La Bonham-Carter when I have been away for so long and need to catch up with all things politico? It is valuable space that would be better used in saving the world or at least writing about what the Cleggster has been up to in the soap opera that continues to unfold in Parliament? Simple unabashed indulgent levity. So bear with me.

Because, my dears, it seems that Helena has gone and done it again! In true devil-may-care style, she showed up to receive her prestigious and coveted OBE (Order of the British Empire) in a zany Vivienne Westwood tartan that could probably be spotted all the way to the Scottish Highlands. She accessorized it with some long necklaces one with a star, another with some keys, still another with a heart and then as an accent next to all those necklaces was one more necklace...a very staid string of pearls. And, true to form, she topped it off with a tiny black Lolita stovepipe hat. Rather like one Abe Lincoln would wear, if he had only had a teeny-tiny head. She didn't carry a handbag or a clutch, instead she carried her mobile phone with her...her vivid pink mobile phone with bunny ears. And as the Queen reached over to pin the honor on the actress, you could spot the bunny ears on the mobile phone sticking out of her hand. 

It was so abso-bloomin-Bonham-marvelous, I loved it!

Was it Rodgers and Hammerstein who wrote the song: "There is nothing like a dame?" Well, I tell you what, the Order of the British Empire has been conferred on a dame like no other. And for that, I have hope for the rest of us hat-wearing, pantaloon-pushing, bolshy dames.

Well done, Dame Helena.


Her Royal Highness and Helena









Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Freedom? Liberty? Soon to be Retired from the American Lexicon

I had to take a break from blogging due to personal reasons. I hope to be back soon to share some insights on the great changes going on in Europe.

However,my concern is across the pond at the moment..what on earth is happening to freedom in America? Does anyone care that American's personal rights to due process of law were signed off a few days ago? Or was that buried under another story about The Kardashians? Hello? Any Americans out there? That's all we are talking about over here, but there seems to be a media blackout in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Till I come back...I'd like to share a little song with you in the true spirit of the season...the "1984" Christmas Season! Cheers!

Friday, 11 November 2011

2012: The End is Near...Sort Of

Last week, my darling (he really is) youngest brother, whose idea of "doomsday" is finding out that the local convenience store ran out of iced slush on the hottest day of the year, surprised me. He quietly asked: "You know all this stuff about 2012? Do you think something bad is going to happen?" I was taken aback. It was then that I realized that "2012-as-Doomsday-Year" had really entered mass consciousness. I have followed this idea of the Mayan calendar and 2012 being the end of time for years. I studied the "Dreamspell" when Jose Arguelles first devised it. I spent hours on Mount Shasta, Glastonbury and Sedona drumming and doing sweat lodges and talking far into the night with self-proclaimed mystics. I've read more books and listened to more interviews than is humanly possible on this subject. I did it not out of fear, but because I am more curious than the average person. Enquiring minds want to know. But I've been reading and listening and waiting for 2012 going on  three decades. So, I didn't pick up a book right after I saw John Cusack running for his life in a movie. I am a long time researcher of this upcoming (non) event. The idea of 2012 and its implications (real or imagined), for me, has not been a great surprise nor has it frightened me or made me head for the hills. On a good day, it made for great dinner conversation. On a bad day, I put extra canned peas into my grocery trolley. Of course, I was never sure how cans of peas could protect me from solar flares or Nibiru. Am I supposed to wear them as armour? Someone please let me know.

What will happen in 2012? What should we expect? Will a comet or Planet X fall on our heads? Will Atlantis emerge from the dark waters off Bimini? And will Richard Branson put a holiday theme park on it?

2012 will be a watershed year. No, the world will not meet a dire physical calamity though flogging the idea of 2012 as apocalyptic is big business. However, I think it is the end of the world as we know it now. All the banksters, the fraudulent corporations, crime bosses and people who have made a living feeding off the energy of the less fortunate will begin to feel their knees wobble. Keeping secrets will no longer be possible. (Take heed, you lying cheating husbands...the gig is up.)  This is a year of great reckoning for the raconteur. So, while the powerful have made billions by defrauding the little guy...the end is near. The end is near for everything that is not in integrity. Everything hidden will be exposed. All that seemed to be perfect will unravel. Holding on to what seemed solid will only make it crumble underneath you. 2012 will usher in a time of upheaval both spiritually and politically. And it will be a few decades before we are able to come back into a semblance of normality. And, no, it will not happen on December 21st 2012 as predicted by soothsayers and spin doctors. It will painfully roll out in the next ensuing years.

So, don't put away your rosary beads, yet. Hang on to your hats. 2012 may not be the oft touted apocaylpse but it will be the gateway into a cleansing of the planetary forces that keep it enslaved.
It will get worse until it will get better.Yes, I know. Big changes coming but not in the way that has been predicted.

And John Cusack, if you read this come find me.It isn't that I am not a courageous dame.And I know Lloyd Dobler was just a character in a movie.  But while the world shakes, I want to be with you. I figure discussing deeper issues with someone who is committed to making the world a better place is really good company. Oh, and bring the boombox. It wouldn't hurt to pretend to be nuts about me too. Now, that's an end of the world scenario to look foward to.



Monday, 24 October 2011

Worth One Thousand Words



After today's travesty, please see (video below) what the as-yet-to-be-elected Prime Minister said in 2005, urging people to demand a referendum from Gordon Brown...and yet he denied the same opportunity for a referendum to the British people.




Friday, 21 October 2011

Mutiny on Downing Street--The Two Party Leaders Oppose The People

Cameron and Miliband: United Against the Will of the People
The rumblings of a possible mutiny of the backbenchers in the Tory Party over an EU referendum have fuelled the hopes of those that want to see the British people have the opportunity to actually vote to leave the European Union. The historic debate is set for this Monday, October 24th. The debate will culminate in a vote to simply decide whether to entertain a referendum in the future. It's not the best we could hope for, but it is much more than we had a few weeks ago.

The Prime Minister is said to be in a panic as he scrambles to pen some sort of plan to appease as many Conservatives who signed up to a Commons motion which is supporting an EU referendum. Several of Camerons aides are saying outright that they are ready to quit completely.

Cameron, who promised to give the British people a referendum during his campaign, backed out and started waltzing with the Brussels bureaucrats in the past months. However, the rise in Euroscepticism and the tanking of the Euro as well as the massive bailouts that are looming for the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) is making its mark on the British mind. No one wants to have to pay for bailouts for other countries when the economy is hard-hit  here at home.

It isn't just the Tories (Conservative Party) that are being subjected to some shaking up. The Labour Party under Ed Miliband is also facing some opposing views. Both Miliband and Cameron are set to be imposing three-line whips and members of their respective parties are balking at such stringent measures. What is really upsetting members of both parties is that the public has presented a petition to the government that they want a referendum and both leaders are ignoring and wanting to block it. It is believed that 30 members of Miliband's party will oppose his directive to vote against the proposal for an EU referendum.

Cameron brought back the debate (which was to be scheduled for next Thursday) to Monday which upset a lot of Cabinet members who felt that he was trying to stave off the possible rebellion. It also upset the referendum campaign group "The People's Pledge" who had planned  a huge rally at Parliament next Thursday. (They have rescheduled it for 2:30 this Monday, October 24th at the House of Commons.) Cameron had called an emergency meeting in Downing Street this past Monday to give the new/junior frontbenchers a good thrashing on why they had to vote against the EU proposal for a referendum. But it backfired, when he learned that a number of them were prepared to simply quit. They are being loyal to their constituents who are calling for a referendum and not voting the Party line.

Senior backbencher, Mark Pritchard, of the Tories stated that: "There is now a three-line whip from the Government on the Conservative benches, a three-line whip on the Liberal Democrats and a three line whip for the Labour benches. Is it any surprise that the British public are increasingly frustrated that this place is more out of touch than ever on the European Union?"

There is hope on the horizon. It's time to put our MPs feet to the fire.

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Woes of Mr Whippy

A Mr Whippy van--a vanishing neighborhood icon?
Next summer, you may realize that something very traditional is  missing from the British neighborhood. European regulations are set to  make the happy (or annoying, if  you are like Dennis the Menace's Mr. Wilson) sounds of the summer ice cream van a thing of the past.

The stringent and challenging regulations passed by the EU are set to go into effect this January (2012) and may make the small business ice cream truck go the way of the dinosaur. Owners of ice cream vans must comply with very expensive emission modifications and/or buy totally new vehicles. If they don't they will face huge fines or end up being shut out of business entirely.

Jose Manuel Barroso, who appears not to be a stranger to Spain's equivalent of  "Mr Whippy", weighed in with a half-baked opinion on the fact that a lot of "red tape" was strangling small businesses in the European Union. Derek Clark MP from the East Midlands said that "it would be a crying shame to lose yet another British institution because of  EU meddling and interference. Ice cream companies are already being hit by expensive trade licenses and insurances, supermarket competition, plus the rise in food and petrol prices."

Yet another reason, we must call for a referendum on the EU and probably the most important one....

We must save Mr Whippy!  :)

Let Them Have Diamonds In Their Knickers!

How is it that Wall Street is being occupied by people who think that the wealth of nations is being squandered mindlessly and yet a company in the UK is busy launching a pair of ivory silk underwear that is imbedded with a diamond and touting it as a "great investment"?  Oh, isn't life...well, mad?

The knickers which are retailing for £232 and come with a detachable diamond are being advertised as "the ideal way to look after your money in these troubled financial times". Apparently, this is because diamonds have increased 27 percent in value over the past year. They are set to be sold at Selfridge's beginning in November. (Oh! Just in time for Christmas!)

The Wall Street Occupiers Nightmare Knickers
A spokesman at Selfridge's said: "As people look to source alternative forms of investment, the knickers form a practical as well as indulgent solution....(and) alongside gold are seen as one of the most reliable forms of investment in the current climate." An alternative source of investment? Not the gold standard anymore but the the "knicker standard"?

I'll have to put those alongside my Berkey Water Filter, my portable solar panels, my storable food and my snowshoes.  A girl can't survive earth changes without a pair of diamond ivory silk studded knickers, eh? It's a must have. (Not.) 

These aren't even attractive knickers. I could have spent a whopping ten pounds sewing a massive cubic zirconia into a pair of  "Hanes Her Way" big-time knickers and made something memorable (like the Titanic, no doubt.) And besides, who wants to worry about being mugged...for their panties?!

I was wondering if the diamonds that are embedded in the knickers get bigger with each increase in size? In which case, someone better call Lloyd's of London to insure mine.



Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Secret Of Oz (Reprise)

Exactly a year ago this month, I encouraged people to watch the brilliant documentary, "The Secret of Oz" by Bill Still. (To read where I talked about it --- go here. )   It was being shown then on British television and explained how the book, The Wizard of Oz, was L. Frank Baum's allegorical tale of the monetary system, the banks and the industrialists of that time. I knew all about this years ago because I had a forward-thinking high school history teacher who taught about this when we were studying William Jennings Bryan and the populist movement of the late 1800's.

The documentary is now on YouTube in its entirety (uploaded courtesy of Mr Still)  and I am posting it for you to watch. Think times have changed? Think that history doesn't repeat itself? Think that the protests on Wall Street were hatched last month? Think it's time for a change? Watch "The Secret of Oz".

The film:


Saturday, 8 October 2011

One Exceptionally Good Apple ...

...forever changed our lives and left us much too soon.

Steve Jobs
1955-2011 




Thursday, 6 October 2011

David Cameron Cries for "Bulldog Spirit" with some "Bull" of his Own

Give me a break. David Cameron, speaking at the Conservative Party conference urged Britain to shun "can't-do sogginess" and instead find that "bulldog spirit" so indicative of the old British ways. Really?
What about your "can't do sogginess" on the issue of the EU referendum, Mr Cameron? You have the audacity to call upon the British people  to find their fighting spirit when you sit there and watch British money dumped into the infinite black pit in Brussels?  Do you not understand that the indomitable "bulldog spirit" which led this country through two Great Wars was easy to find back then because the Brits were unified and possessed a proud self-determination and had a say in their government?  The future that shaped that so-called "bulldog spirit" was not entrusted to a group of strangers in Brussels. You can't have an economic turnaround (as you so called for Britain to do) when the economy is under the charge of some politicos who simply think of Great Britain as a statistical graph and a big deep pocket for the rest of Europe. And may I say, Mr Cameron, that pocket is shrinking just as quickly as your support.

While it looks like a referendum debate is finally on the horizon, Mr Cameron, in a move that made Nijinsky look like an amateur disco king, danced his way out of his promise of a referendum.  So much for the great rhetoric he served us up on a platter during the election, right?

MPs are set to debate whether British citizens will be given a chance to decide whether to remain in the EU or not. And the vote is to be held in the House of Commons before Christmas. No vote has been taken on this issue since the 1975 referendum which pushed Great Britain into the Common Market.

Growing opposition to the European Union in Britain, along with the collapsing Euro is hammering the point home. There must be a referendum. At this point, with the economy on its knees, it has become a moral issue.  One hundred thousand signatures on a petition calling for a referendum was given to a group of MPs who have been given the task of  making sure that this issue is not ignored.

There is to be a one-day debate on a referendum after Parliament returns next week. It was a Labour MP who stated it clearly: "The EU today is completely different from the one the British people voted to join in 1975...it is time MPs openly debated (the issue) too."  William Hague, the Foreign Secretary said that the current government would not stand for a public vote...and went on to say that: "Our place is in the European Union."

And Cameron, after promising over and over that a referendum would be on his agenda, (especially during his election campaign) made it now clear stating that he would not support a referendum. "I don't want Britain to leave the EU... I think it's the wrong answer for Britain. People in rooms up and down Britain aren't thinking, gosh, if only we could have a treaty change in Europe. They are thinking, get the economy moving, get jobs going in this economy. That's what my leadership's about..." 

All up and down Britain you say? When did you last hang out in rooms up and down Britain with people who can actually think for themselves and know that Great Britain is being stolen out under them?   Do you think people are so vapid they can't figure out that millions of pounds are being sent to Brussels daily to prop up a tanking Euro? British monies that can be better spent in helping people here who are struggling to make ends meet?

Your first mistake was to believe that an election promise would not be remembered. Your second mistake is to believe that the British people are all "sheeple" that you can appease with a few empty words and the hope that they will be too busy watching "Coronation Street" to give  a damn that their country is being pilfered. When the Labour government is also speaking for a possible referendum, then you know there is going to be a rumble, so get your dragster ready, Dave.

Your underestimation of the people you serve will not serve you anymore. The country voted for a man of courage and a man to make a stand for freedom. That's why you were elected.
 But apparently, that man is no where to be found.