Saturday, 19 August 2017

Brexit: A Mistake or a Calamity?

Last year, after the result of the referendum the mood of the Brexiteers was high, they were delighted in their ' win.' As a Remainer I was shocked and disappointed at the result but took it upon myself to wonder why and how I had misread the mood of the nation.
I maintain my view that for a lot of people the EU Referendum vote was a protest vote against personal circumstances.
However, the vote was to leave the EU and now (perversely) I feel those brazen Brexiteers have been dealt a disservice. Those very ideals they voted for have been broken down, put into a transition period or diluted as to make them an irrelevance.
The lies on the bus are known as lies on the bus.
The politicians are the last at the party propped up against the fridge, in the kitchen, staring into the dregs. Or they are not at the party at all. They weren't invited.
Ironically the Europe we voted to leave in 2016 is now on its uppers. France and Germany are enjoying a reconciliation in friendship.
Europe is united against the threat and incidence of terrorism.
The Brexit negotiations are a disaster and an embarrassment.
Europe is laughing at Little Britain.
Our demands will not be met.
We seem to be asking for all the benefits of membership of the union but simply do not want to pay the administration fees.
Great Britain will be far better off in the European Union.
It wasn't broke therefore why fix it?
Britain will be isolated, financially worse off, disrespected and alone if we leave the EU.
Exit Brexit.
Future generations will accept a mistake but not a calamity.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Comment: No Child Is Born Evil.

People are not 'born' evil.
These terrorists have 'learned' to take an evil path. Therefore someone has 'taught' them to believe the path of their evil is not only the correct path but a path that will lead them to some sort of honour and martyrdom.
Someone has 'taught' them to such an extent that we can say 'brainwashed' them to truly believe their views are correct but not only that, they are brainwashed to believe that the views of others are not simply incorrect but abhorrently wrong, distasteful and disgusting.
They are taught to disrespect western civilisation- yet curiously don't mind living in a western civilisation alongside members of their extended families.
They find themselves living within a tolerant society yet they themselves are intolerant to the extreme.
They find themselves torn in a frustration of secretly wanting to be a 'westerner' while being brainwashed into seeing western society as the root of all evil.
Who is playing with their emotions? Who is sending a drip, drip, drip set of notions into their heads? Who is preying on the mixed up emotions of teenagers? An age when it is perfectly acceptable to rebel. Yes, maybe get ten earrings or a few tattoos as in Western society. But to rebel in Islamic enclaves?  Do they choose their own rebellion? Are they actively encouraged to the path of extremism, carnage, murder?
The bottom line is with the Imams. They MUST take more responsibility within their communities. They must be held to greater account on the behaviours of those in their midst. The Muslim communities and Muslim families must step up and take responsibility.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Exit Brexit

I brought my dad back from his hospital stay today. He is 81. He has been fitted with a pacemaker. The hospital staff have been absolutely brilliant, kind and lovely. To his surprise though dad admitted that they were all ' Bloody foreigners. ' As he walked back through his front door I reminded him that without those bloody foreigners he would have been carried out of his house in a long box.
He voted to Brexit.
Britain, wake up and smell the coffee.
Exit Brexit.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Exit Brexit

Exit Brexit.
Politicians come and go. As do their egos.
Britain is European.
Little Britain is long gone.
Wake up and enjoy your life.
Strong coffee and a croissant.
That's breakfast sorted.
A chicken and chorizo pasta lunch.
With a glass of red.
Coq au vin for dinner with crusty French bread and a Fitou.
Let's embrace our union rather than leave the party, empty handed, alone and bored. Only to return to an empty flat and a bowl of cornflakes.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Radio X.

Here is my new 'retro' radio, by the toaster and with the manky back door in frame.
But this little gem of a radio blasts out SO much fun everyday, it brightens my life.
It is tuned to Radio X.

I have listened to XFM since its conception in 1997. I remember many a Saturday afternoon driving to the seafood stall but having to pull over so many times in fits of giggles , tears streaming down my face, listening to Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
The crab and prawns always gave me indigestion as I would be doubled up on the way back home.
Cramped with laughing with a belly full of fresh crab is actually quite painful.

In 1996 I went to see Oasis at Maine Road. It was THE BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE, as anyone who knows me will testify. I still, to this day could bore for England about it but oh what a glorious night.
I was on a high for two whole weeks after the gig and wore my sky blue Oasis T shirt and trackie bottoms to meet my kids from school. proudly, much to their embarrassment. Of course XFM and then Radio X has Oasis as their main man band wise. But wouldn't the listeners be jealous to know that after that magical gig I wandered through the streets of Manchester (absolutely Coronation Street land) back to my hotel. As I tried to navigate the revolving doors a tiny little bloke was being shoved by a huge burly bouncer type of guy. Then I realised the tiny bloke was Noel.
Somehow I ended up at the after gig party with Liam and Patsy, Noel and Meg, the other band members and all of The Manic Street Preachers. A roadie with the Manic's couldn't believe I had 'dustbin lids' I think the adrenaline took years off me.

The next morning I got the train back to London and it broke down every five minutes. It was the longest train journey but I was just SO happy I didn't care.
The following years had me singing an answer to my kid's questions, it must have been maddening.
'What's for dinner?'  'I'll pick you up at half past three, we'll have lasagna.'
'Oh mum, hurry up'  ' So Sally can wait'
You get the picture. 'Don't look back in anger'
Around my way the birds are singing.
'You've got to make it happen' was a case of misheard lyrics on a car journey when my daughters had a giggly fit as they thought the words were 'you've got a naked husband, you've got a naked husband.'

Music, XFM and now Radio X music has helped me through difficult times.
Every morning I am in stitches listening to Chris Moyles and the team, the teams are so important.
I love Toby Tarrant, Jack Saunders, Dan O Connell, and yes, of course Pippa and Sunta who both add so much to the entertainment even if they are mercilessly ribbed by either Chris or Johnny.
And the most surprising person is definitely Johnny Vaughan, I thought I didn't like him, I don't even know why, perhaps it was bad press. But now, he is my favourite, well him and Gavin 'The Woodman' Woods.
I adore the Saturday 'Kickabout', just a minute of their bantering has me crying with laughter.
I love the way the whole Radio X team gel together and I normally get really annoyed with too much talk when I want music.
But, you guys have smashed it.
Great music, great talk, brilliant camaraderie.
Oasis, Radiohead, Snow Patrol, Kasabian, Coldplay, Bowie, Smashing Pumpkins, Pink Floyd, et al.

Nowadays my kids are grown up so it just leaves me to sing to my dog;'You're in love with a psycho, you're in love with a psycho and there's nothing you can do about it.'

Thanks Radio X.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Brexit: Transition Period

Brexit died a death as soon as the words 'transition period' were mentioned. 

They appear in every article concerning the process of leaving the EU and are pounced upon by our cousins in the EU. (Quite rightly in my opinion as the words make a mockery of the 'leaving process.')

You can't 'leave' a little bit and over time.
You announce the time of your departure and on that date you leave.

The good thing being that once you have left you could perhaps return.

Our government's dithering, hesitating ,faltering and fluctuating position over Brexit, what it actually means and when it will take place will be the death of it.

'Transition period' has been eased into the Brexit talks to replace the non-entity that was ' No deal is better than a bad deal.'

The Leavers have been well and truly duped.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Brexit: A Very Weak and Wobbly Policy

I watched an interesting 'A Conversation With...'  programme the other day, the guest being Nigel Lawson. (Ex- Chancellor under Margaret Thatcher))

Mr Lawson was explaining that although he backed Brexit and thought it about time we left the European Union he was at pains to explain the crucial points of policy.
Policy. Policy. Policy. 
He could not re-iterate his point enough. 
No decision, he said was a good decision unless the policy behind it, ahead of it and by its side (my words) was well researched, strong and ultimately do-able and in the best interests of Britain.
A weak policy should not be given the light of day.

In my opinion, there was never ANY policy for Brexit.

Although I am a Remainer I believe for the sake of democracy that Brexit is sent back to the drawing board.

When (and if) a sound Brexit POLICY is written it can then be discussed in The House and The House of Lords and then ( after amendments and in full) be given into the public domain.

After a period in which we can absorb, research and examine the policy we will be invited to vote in another referendum. 

Meanwhile the 2016 referendum is declared null and void.

Chaotic Politics

Britain is in chaos and our politicians are to blame.
I think the problem lies with too many 'career politicians.' We see this so much today and it must alienate a lot of voters who are struggling with everyday, real-life issues.
There's nothing more annoying than listening to views about the NHS, the rail service, dealing with bureaucracy,  the reality of unemployment, social care etc from people who have never experienced these issues.

Also, it seems to me that politicians have a mind-set that is fact based, but that's all. They seem to be lacking in intuition, and that all important sixth sense.
They simply don't 'understand' people.

This was so evident in the EU referendum. People were pleased to be given a voice but that voice wasn't really to do with our membership of the EU. For a lot of people it was a protest vote against their personal circumstances. Their lives were hard, they wanted something to blame.

If the question in the referendum had been: Do you believe our membership of the EU to be disparaging to your life chances? Yes/No.  What would the result have been?

People would have wondered what on earth they were voting for or against.

And since the referendum those very people who thought their voice had been heard are now finding that actually it hadn't.

The same goes in the US. Rallying calls for a 'Very big this or a very big that' won over the voters.

We need politicians who have lived a life outside of parliament. Real men and women who are in touch with real people.

People who can 'read' the mood of the nation, empathise and really want to work toward a better future.

Brexit: The Battle of the Lions and the Leopards

The Leopards, David Davis, Boris Johnson, Liam fox and Michael Gove, the advocates of Brexit presented us with a situation where Britain would be better off both politically and economically.
To adopt or even envisage the compromises necessary for agreement with the rest of the EU would be to recognise that Brexit was sold to the British electorate on a false prospectus.
Far from improving the UK's position in the world Brexit can only diminish it.
The Brexit choices are:
Minimum change from the status quo.
Maximum change from the status quo.
Half-way house between the two.

All of which are inferior to the present state of affairs.

The Lions, Philip Hammond, Damien Green and Amber Rudd need to ROAR.

Mrs May needs to admit that Britain needs to Exit Brexit , and take herself off into the long grass to lick her wounds. 

The Leopards have never been and never will be the kings of the jungle.

Brexit: A State of Emergency.

As a UK citizen residing within the European Union can I declare a 'State of Emergency'

My reasons:
A really rather reckless referendum.
A lot of porkies.
A minority government in disarray.
A total confusion on exit strategy.
A Prime Minister on her last legs.
A total lack of cohesion within the government.
A feeling of absolute dread that my country is making the biggest mistake in its entire history.

As a nation clinging onto the our membership of the EU are there ANY statutes that the EU can bring forth to change the direction we are going in? Over the edge of the cliff that is.
Please Macron, Merkel etc hatch a plan and save us from ourselves.
Even if it's a gracious (but long) breathing space while our annoying politicians sort themselves out.

Sophia Loren.

"Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical."

"Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful."

"If you haven't cried, your eyes can't be beautiful."

Monday, 17 July 2017

Brexit Today.

Brexit has turned into Hard Brexit or No Deal Brexit. 
What happened to 'the best deal for Britain'?
Why is David Davis allowed to decide that we to leave the customs union and the single market?
Did every voter in the referendum know the difference between the  customs union and the single market and did they take their studious views as a basis for our future trading relations with Europe?
Does it not seem unarguable that if we put between us and the biggest free market in the world new tariffs, new regulatory barriers, new customs procedures, certificates of origin etc we are bound to be weakening the economic position from what it would otherwise have been?

Why are we going backwards?

Why are we allowing ourselves to be so distracted by Brexit to the exclusion of what needs to be done for the future?

The NHS, schools, the workplace, communities, the retired, the young, the old, all are  affected by this backward looking nonsense that is Brexit because they are not getting the attention they deserve.

All Britain's allies and friends, from Australia, Canada, India, Japan and the US to London's 27 EU partners had urged British voters to Remain in the EU. It is hard to think of anyone beyond Britain's borders who is happy with this stupid decision to Brexit. 

Mrs May needs to don her 'Revolutionary' hat and find a way of aborting Brexit in order that she can get on with the job as PM.

It might do wonders for her future. Be brave Mrs May. SAVE YOUR NATION.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Happy Days.

 Can you learn to be cheerful? Is it a realistic goal? Can you choose a path of optimism? What is optimism?

Daniel Goleman states in his book, Emotional Intelligence  (1995) that optimism " means having a strong expectation that, in general, things will turn out all right in life, despite setbacks and frustrations...optimism is an attitude that buffers people against falling into apathy, hopelessness or depression in the face of tough going."

Life is tough. Whether you are a student, a teenager, a young parent, an old parent, employed, unemployed, in love or nursing a broken heart. Life is a road which carries many bumps, it is how we choose to navigate the road which can make the journey enjoyable, miserable, magnificent or dull.

There will always be something with you as you make your journey.

It will go everywhere with you.
It will be on display at all times.
It has no size.
It has no colour.
People will make judgements about you on the basis of it.
Its impact on your life is profound.

What can it be?

It is your attitude.

An optimistic attitude prepares you to anticipate success and to bounce back from set-backs. A positive attitude will enable you to see obstacles as opportunities and to remain motivated in order to achieve your goals. An optimistic outlook will help you make self-fulfilling prophecies work for you rather than against you. If you expect things to turn out well, they are more likely to do so.

Optimism is such a wonderful tool because it gives you the confidence to cope with positive and negative events. It helps you to approach situations with assurance, persistence and an expectation of success. Being optimistic means you have a natural aptitude for happiness. That you can manage your perspective and that you can take an active role in creating the life you want.

A valuable lesson to learn here though is that for some people, an optimistic outlook will simply not work. Some people, believe it or not, are quite happy being miserable. I had a long relationship with such a person, He would use my 'optimistic outlook' as a weapon against me. Obviously the relationship ended. As far as I know he is still quite happy being miserable. But that's life. His glass will be forever half empty. At the end of a tunnel I will see daylight, he will see the headlights of an oncoming train. I will see a silver lining, he will see rain approaching. I'll see the doughnut he will see the hole.

You can keep your glass half full by accentuating the positive aspects of a situation. This doesn't mean you are ignoring or denying the negative aspects it's simply a decision to seek encouragement rather than discouragement.
Another key aspect in keeping your glass half full is to express gratitude for what you have or what you have experienced. People who show their appreciation feel more alert, optimistic, enthusiastic and positive.
Of course it is true that when the going gets tough it will be more difficult to be grateful than when things are going well. However it is a valuable lesson to learn that it is during hard times that we need gratitude the most.

"The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.'
Marcus Aurelius
(AD 121-180)


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

I Miss My Pre-Internet Brain.

Douglas Coupland is a Canadian novelist/artist/designer who creates visual masterpieces, one of his pieces is a poster reading, " I Miss My Pre-Internet Brain," He has designed many more since this one which was included as part of the collection: "Welcome to the 21st Century."

Coupland is 54, a few years older than me and, like me lucky enough to have actually owned a pre-internet brain and can therefore compare past and present. It's quite a concept and makes me feel privileged to have been born in the 1960's, a generation of children who may well have been the last lot to grow up in a world of self-discovery and wonder, curiosity and creativity as well as in my case anyway, hunger and quite a bit of deprivation. I didn't know I was deprived though so it didn't really matter. I knew I was hungry quite a lot but then I just assumed everyone else was as well. Wasn't it a great feeling to see your big brother walk up the road with a rabbit tucked in his belt, or to not get caught whilst scrumping? (Younger people will need to google) 
A big joy of childhood was the library, a big quiet building where one could wander for ages and ages and go home with lots of dusty books under your arm. (yes, yes, today you know exactly what you want to read, you've seen the reviews online and a pristine book will arrive wrapped in a box) I still love the library, I still sit down in my Lloyd Loom chair and retreat into the world of 11th century Paris or Tudor England or anywhere in the world at any time at all for that matter, even space if I feel so inclined. The library today though is a noisy affair with lots of bleeping going on and people talking into their laptops. Old people shuffle about too embarrassed to ask how to actually borrow their books as the machine has replaced the librarian.
In my day my friends and I on the rare occasions that rain stopped play, would idle away time colouring in. That meant using colouring pencils to colour in pictures in a book. Now, that's an exercise in 'mindfulness.'
The thought of being stuck indoors was a frightful one. Why would anyone want to do that? There were, (still are actually) trees to climb, rivers to swim, orchards to strip, fields to scour. I think I spent about a third of my childhood in swimming pools, proper swimming pools with a proper deep end, not namby- pamby shallow  'safe' boring drips that pretend to be pools today.
Then there was school, Primary School was good fun, Secondary School not so much but I did learn a lot. Curiously although I hated Physics, my teacher to my hilarity was called Mr Grime, I learned an awful lot although didn't realise it at the time. Who knew flow tanks would have been so helpful?
I wasn't allowed the luxury of further education and went to work in London just short of my sixteenth birthday. At twenty I was promoted to a Chief Referencing Officer, fancy being a chief of anything at that tender age. My job was to travel across all of the London Boroughs collating evidence of land ownership. This would see me chatting to a Lord and Lady in Kensington one day and a big burly gypsy on a caravan site the next. I loved that job and it has stood me in good stead as a researcher.I expect all the information I found by trawling around with my pencil and pad can now be found on the internet, not so the myriad of stories behind the facts however.
Nearly thirty years later, my pre-internet brain is shared with my post internet brain.
Today as I walked around the park with my dog I came across a lot of young mums pushing their babies in their buggies. Ducks, swans, herons, cormorants, woodpeckers, parakeets, tits, a sly fox all totally ignored, bright orange and red crinkly leaves left underfoot and not kicked up in delight, squirrels left alone to squirrel their nuts. All the while the babies moaned and the mums listened to music or talked loudly into their hands-free sets.
The dog trod in a sticky pile of something and was covered in burrs, as I extricated them I realised my hand was covered in poo. I had my wellies on so climbed down the old roots of a tree into the stream and splashed about as I washed my hands, I dried them on a waxy leaf... much to the horror of a lady walking by who politely passed me a packet of disinfectant wipes.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Google Search: Sunflowers and other Stories.

Having been brought up in the sixties and seventies I do admit to having a bit of a hippy outlook on life but I think this has served me well. I was always encouraged to read and constantly had my nose in a book. Enid Blyton taught me not to be afraid of spiders with her stories of Aaron the spider who was really a prince. I have infuriated my daughters over the years by my insistence that that huge hairy eight legged specimen in the bath was actually a prince trapped in a spider's body. They learned from a very young age how to use a pint glass and a piece of card to let the arachnid out of the window. Same with bees and wasps,' Buzz, buzz, buzz busy bee, busy bee, buzz if you like but don't sting me.' (I made that one up) Walking around the park would have me singing 'There once was an ugly duckling....' although I certainly didn't read that book to my own children over and over again, like my mum did to me ( I still bear a grudge)
As a child I played outside all day long. Imaginary friends would surround me in the woods along with fairies and elves. Trees would have faces to match their personalities, my imagination was that good.
As I grew older I became enchanted by the Greek myths. I still love them to this day. A recent guilty pleasure was discovering the film Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief which I love.
So why the picture of sunflowers? Well my hippy childhood taught me to see the stories behind the scenes; a gift that the young today may never learn with boring old Google giving them black and white answers to all of their questions.

Google: Sunflower; (Well, take a look)

Sunflowers : The beautiful sunflower takes her name from Clytie, a water nymph who turns into a sunflower after grieving the loss of her beloved Apollo. The mythological symbolism is that Clytie (in her form as a sunflower) is always facing the sun looking for Apollo's chariot to return that they might rekindle their love.

The sunflower grows tall and moves to face the life giving rays of the sun and is often used as the symbol of spiritual faith and worship.

A vase full of sunflowers brings sunshine to the gloomiest of days.

Not in Vogue.

Me,back in the very early 80's
I can remember having this picture taken. It is a photograph, not a snap. I had to pose, I was very tall (well, funnily enough, I still am) and very slim and very young and fancied myself as super model material. I was a bit premature on that front as the real supermodels were still struggling to make names for themselves back then, in fact the term wouldn't be christened for a couple more years. I sent the photo to a modelling agency in Mayfair. I didn't hear anything from the agency so just carried on in my job as a clerical officer at the Greater London Council. Then one day I had a phone call at work, a personal phone call which was very frowned upon. It was a man calling from the agency in Mayfair asking me where I was. I was flustered and replied that I was at work. He went on in a dramatic fashion to say that the studio had been set up and the photographer was waiting for me. I didn't know what to do as I couldn't just up and leave my desk. I tried to explain that I hadn't heard anything from the agency at all, let alone notice of a pending appointment. My immediate boss could see that I was in a pickle and indicated that I pass him the phone which I did. He asked the caller for an explanation and then calmly put the phone down. He then, to my astonishment , took some cash out of his wallet and told me to go and get a taxi to the appointment.
It was summer and I was wearing a dress, quite a smart dress as casual clothes were not deemed fit to wear to work at that time. I felt frumpy and not model material at all but a steely determination had set in and on the way to Mayfair I mapped my new life , it would include lots of glamorous parties, champagne, gorgeous clothes, Vogue covers, shining hair, good-looking men and of course, vast sums of money.
I arrived at the building which was a tall and grand affair, I presumed the whole house was the agency but soon realised that the number of bells attached to the wall gave the lie to that assumption. I pressed the bell to the agency and the door swung open. I climbed up a long staircase until I reached what was probably once known as the servants' quarters. I was ushered in by a youngish man who was wearing a hacking jacket and light brown cords, (I don't know why I remember this detail so clearly) he had a floppy fringe which he had to keep flicking from his eyes. He looked me up and down while rubbing his hand across his chin. He asked me to pull my dress up so he could see more of my legs. I felt a red flush bloom across my cheeks but pulled up my dress as instructed. He seemed to stare at my legs for ages and I felt awkward and embarrassed but kept telling myself I was being stupid as of course I would have to expect this sort of scrutiny everyday while being photographed by David Bailey and the like.
Finally, the man from the agency, (I can't remember his name) told me he thought my legs were a tiny bit on the chubby side but not to worry, I could exercise that away. I remember feeling mortified, my legs couldn't really have been any skinnier, they wouldn't have held me up. I dropped my dress back down to below my knees.
The photographer called from the 'studio' which was probably once upon a time, a broom cupboard.
I had lost my nerve, I couldn't bear the thought of my chubby legs being photographed. I dashed back down the staircase on my sturdy pins and hailed a taxi which took me back to County Hall.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

My Polish Friend.


I take my dog for a long walk everyday and everyday is a different experience. Today I noticed a lot of Jays flying about. I love Jays.  I am always delighted to see such a magnificent blue flash appearing overhead. But there is another reason that I am always pleased to see a Jay.

About ten years ago I was working in a dental studio. The man who ran the studio fancied himself as a bit of a ladies' man but I wasn't interested in him at all. It was the old man who did the technical work who held me in thrall. His name was Heinz and he was in his early seventies. He was short and round, his cropped hair was grey and he had made his own teeth. He was Polish. We became great friends. We made a very unlikely couple. Me, tall and slim and quite a bit younger than him. I suppose people presumed him to be my dad but he came to mean much more to me than a surrogate parent. He was so kind even though he had lived through terrible times. He described being poverty stricken while growing up in Poland, he told of his escape from his homeland and his tough life in Britain. But he never felt sorry for himself, just grateful for the life he had made. Always the under-dog, he seemed to accept that his dentistry skills would be taken advantage of by people less skilled in technique but more polished in talk than himself.
We went out for lots of meals.  He would dress up for our evenings and always wore his hat. He had impeccable manners. He would stand up in the restaurant until he had seen me settled and then would make a grand gesture of seating himself, placing hat and gloves neatly on the table next to him. The waiter would not be permitted to remove them to the cloakroom. It was these little gestures that I found so charming.
We would chat and laugh for hours, I can't even remember what we talked about but simply feel a rosy glow at the memories.
I did remember one occasion however when he told me about his 'hunting hat' that he had had for years. He used to have a Jay's feather poked in the rim but had lost it.
The day after this particular evening I was out in the park with my dog, (this was Alfie, my previous dog) and lo and behold a Jay's feather fell to the ground. I should have been astonished but I wasn't. It was one of those magical, mysterious things that happen sometimes. Best not to reason why.
I will never forget the look on Heinz' face later that day when I handed him the feather. Years seemed to fall away  and his eyes filled with tears.(So did mine). A magical link between us was cemented with that feather.
On Valentine's Day that year , 2007, my phone rang and it was Heinz. He wished me Happy Valentine's Day  and thanked me for being such a lovely lady and good friend. He said he never expected he would find such happiness so late in his life and that our friendship had made him a very happy old man.

Out of the blue Heinz received a phone call from an old ex-colleague asking him to go and work for him in Sierra Leone. Most old men ( and Heinz was an old man, not sprightly and fit) would not have given this idea a second thought, but not Heinz.
Off he went with his feather in his cap.

I received a letter from him, inside were a few photos of him in Sierra Leone. Smiling at me with his lovely kind eyes. He looked pretty pleased with himself. He returned to the UK to sell his house and  tie up some loose ends.

Then came the phone call. Heinz told me he was gravely ill. He also told me he didn't want to see me. He wanted me to remember him in happy times, looking well.
 Death came and took him swiftly away.
I loved that man. The memories of our funny friendship will stay with me forever.
The Jay is a lovely reminder of our time together.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

In Praise of Red Lippy

Oil on card by Celia Turner.

My beloved grandma always wore red lipstick, she would not leave the house without a full face of make-up crowned by her lush red lips. It must be in my genes because as long as I've been wearing lipstick ( which is a long time) it's been red. At the moment it's Alarm by Rimmel to walk the dog around the park and Gabrielle by Chanel for special occasions. Chanel lipsticks are an extra special treat as they come in lovely little boxes tucked into  lovely little Chanel bags. A beautiful present to yourself.

Although this doesn't apply to me, red lips have been seen for centuries as a stamp of immorality. In more God- fearing
medieval times, it was believed that creating a plump sexualised mouth would take you on a one way ticket to the devil's doorway. Several hundred years later, Parliament passed a law condemning lipstick, considering it a sign of witchcraft. Good job I wasn't alive in those times, yet another reason to pop me on the ducking stool.

Confusingly there have also been long stretches in history that were entirely pro-red lippy. The Sumerians invented the stuff, just 200 miles outside of Babylon. Egyptian women liked to deepen their lip colour, in fact they were so embraced with beautifying that they were buried with pots of rouge. Queen Elizabeth 1 was famous for her strong red lips, making them regal not sleazy.
And then to Hollywood, with its Technicolor films and beautiful studio portraits;  red lipstick proclaimed GLAMOUR. Think Jean Harlow's pointy pout in the 1930's, Veronica Lake's in the 1940's and of course the purring pouty pout of pouts, the one and only Marilyn Monroe in the 1950's.
These were women with overtly feminine power. They loved being women, they knew their allure, they celebrated their feminine strength.
Even the act of applying red lipstick is empowering. By dressing your lips in red, it draws attention to you, especially your mouth and subsequently the words that come out of it. Red lippy is a symbol of prowess. Unlike other cosmetics that correct or camouflage something we aren't keen on, red lipstick is about assertion. Red lippy is a statement.

Red lippy is a beautiful case of chicken and egg. It may require confidence to wear but confidence can actually result from the wearing of it - and no-one needs to know which came first.
Go on, treat yourself.
You are definitely worth it.

The Birth of Seaside Glamour.

Gerald and Sara Murphy.
Before the early Twenties, no-one
fashionable went to the French Riviera in the summer and sunbathing was unheard of.
But in 1923 an American expatriate couple, Gerald and Sara Murphy, persuaded
the Hotel du Cap to stay open during the hot months so they and their guests could
spend time frolicking in the sea, lying in the sun and sharing gossip.
Their friends included Picasso, Cole Porter, Dorothy Parker, Hemingway, Cocteau, Marlene Dietrich and
Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald. Indeed, so fascinated was Fitzgerald by his hosts that he based Nicole and Dick Diver
Tender is the Night upon them!
A very glamorous set then, and they all looked the part- Sara always wore pearls with her bathing costume
because, she said, "they needed sunning."
Since the Murphy's heyday, the beach has retained its allure and provided
a constant inspiration and backdrop for some of the most memorable
fashion photography.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Brexit: A Horrible History in the Making.

'The government agreed today to fund abortions in England for Northern Irish women in an effort to see off a rebellion on a vote on the Queen's Speech.'

OK, I'm lost now.

So, the problem with the anti-abortion DUP isn't the abortion itself but who pays for it?
Surely that's totally hypocritical?

Is Mrs May happy to be associated with such a 'deal'?

Imagine reading a 'Horrible History Book' in the future about 21st Century Britain: what it stood for at the beginning of June 2016 and what it had become by the end of June 2017.

How much lower will we go?

(Key words for kids doing exams: Brexit, abortion, votes, bribery, Queen's Speech, morality, shame)

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Brexit: The Kick-About

Brexit is like the long awaited cup final. It's quite exciting to see the teams and we all have our favourite side. The whistle blows, we are on the edge of our seats but the players lack passion, the ball goes back and forth and sometimes into the crowd. We take our eye off the ball to check our phone for messages. The game trundles on, no goals,no magnificent saves and no tidy footwork.
The game goes on, the crowd have lost interest in the poor performance.
Why do these teams deserve to be here,bloody hell, the competition must have been rubbish.
The game goes on to extra time, a goal here and a goal there. And then to penalties.
And that's where we are with Brexit.
Let's hope rain stops play, permanently.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Brexit and Kenneth Clarke.

'I believe that membership of the European Union was the way in which we got out of the appalling state we were in when we discovered after Suez that we had no role in the world that we were clear about once we had lost our empire, and our economy was becoming a laughing stock because we were falling behind the countries on the continent that had been devastated in the war but appeared to have a better way of proceeding than we did.' Kenneth Clarke February 2. 2017 The Times.

And now we have to leave.

I have no confidence in the government, any that existed has steadily ebbed away drip by drip each day. It is clear that they are divided, it seems apparent that there is no joined-up thinking, it seems as if there is bitter rivalry among the ranks and that the leader has lost control.
How on earth are they to be trusted to negotiate new tariffs, new regulatory barriers, new customs procedures, certificates of origin etc etc
A vote of no confidence is necessary and the result of the referendum overturned.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Brexit: Settled Status.

Here is the application form for 'Settled Status.' 

You will be needing a wheelbarrow to transport it to your home.

And a lawyer to help you fill it in.

And a very large amount of ink.

We will probably lose it at some point upon its return to this office. We apologise in advance.

Not all applications will be successful.

The decision of this office is final.

No correspondence will be entered into.

Good luck with your application.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Brexit. In reply to Matthew Parris. The Times: June 24th 2017

In his comment piece today, Matthew states:

Our choice is a hard Brexit-or turning back.

'To turn back would still be a national humiliation, though'

Would it? I don't think anyone should feel humiliated, this isn't a game.  Exactly a year has passed since the referendum and every day we seem to learn a bit more about what we have let ourselves in for, and in my opinion, the more forthcoming the information the worse the situation seems to be.

The Remainers, and I am one, would sigh with relief if we could exit Brexit but there would be absolutely no gloating. I think we could all learn valuable lessons from this huge blip in our democratic process. 
The EU have far more important matters to deal with and would probably just accept and be thankful for a change of heart in GB.

Then we can all just get on with our lives without this silly nonsense holding everybody back, causing bad feeling, confusion,economic uncertainty and so many other negative effects.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Brexit. One Year After The Referendum.

I am extremely unhappy that I am to be stripped of my European citizenship.

I have absolutely no faith in the Brexit  process.

I feel embarrassed to be a (reluctant)  victim of a warped democratic process.

I am angry that HM government is so weak and wobbly.

I am very angry that while GB is under siege from terrorists we are turning our backs on our allies.

I am disgusted to be living in a country where the richest borough fiddles the books and a towering inferno occurs killing dozens of innocent people.

I support the ECHR. (I dread to think what would be going on without it)

I have no faith in our PM.

I would accept an olive branch from Tusk. 

Why is this happening? Does anyone really BELIEVE Brexit is a good idea? And I mean, 'believe' not just a stubborn 'we won, get over it' stupid answer.

Donald Tusk said today that he can 'imagine' GB deciding to stay after all and he quotes John Lennon.I do hope he's right. 
It's exactly one year ago today that we held the referendum. The country is still split. The government has a minority and is in a mess. The Brexit talks are underway, Theresa May is being as stubborn as ever. 
Here is my version of 'Imagine.'

Imagine there's no Brexit
It's easy if you try
No hell ahead of us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Bloody Brexit.