Chuck it aaaart

downloadMrs Gnomepants: So we might get our lovely period bath re-enamelled rather than buy a new one. Its a lovely original cast iron bath.
Ma Gnomepants: Why would you want to do that? Oh buy a new one instead.

and

Mother-in-law – Why have you made your own cake? You’d have been better off buying a shop bought one.
A bit later..
Sister-in-law phwarr this cake’s lovely
stegzy Oh yes. Its delightful. Really chocolatey and moist. I’ll have another slice there should be plenty seen as your mum would prefer a shop bought one.

Ma Gnomepants Get yourself a new vacuum cleaner
stegzy Why? Whats wrong with the one I’ve got? I’ve only had it for 4 years
Ma Gnomepants It doesn’t suck right. I think it’s broken
stegzy Mum…Its either full or the pipe is blocked. Bit of poking about Ah yes. Look a big ball of cat hair and paper blocking one of the pipes. And look, it sucks….Thats saved me £100

My mum and the wifes mum are part of what I call the “Throw away” generation. The throw away generation tend to be aged between 50 and 80. If something breaks, whereas their parents would have endeavoured to fix or mend the broken item themselves or have the item repaired by someone else, the “Throw Away” Generation simply chuck it out and buy a new one.

junkMy Dad was born on the cusp of the arrival of this generation. If a hole appeared in one of his socks he used to darn the sock and prolong its life by a further 2 years. Similarly if something mechanically simple breaks, my dad will take it apart and have a look to see if he can repair the thing. This attitude saved me loads of cash as a kid when my over used joysticks for my Commodore 64 would break. A simple twist of the screws and a blob of solder would often fix the problem. Likewise with bicycles, bits of furniture, plumbing, general repairs or whatever, if a simple patch and repair could be affected it would. My mum however, is the opposite. Even the slightest tear of fabric in something and it must be thrown out and a new one bought. Note I said thrown out. Rarely are such items given away to anyone other than family and even then prolonged usage would receive comments such as “Why don’t you buy yourself a new one?” or “I see John Lewis have a sale on “.

I suppose the post war years and the post rationing years promised that generation exciting and disposable things. Instant Car! Just add water! or Our sofas are made of 100% cheap and nasty non-biodegradable polymer based materials. SO cheap! Why buy one? Buy four! If one breaks…chuck it out! Hurrah!!. Their rationed parents and grandparents looking on in bewilderment. “Hey wow look Ethel! Dorothy has bought yet another labour saving device! Gosh do you remember when you had to spend all day Wednesday working on the mangle?”.

So we come full circle again.

Things break
I’ll have a look at the thing.
Assess if I can fix it.
Ask my dad if he can fix it.
Buy a new one but keep the old one for spares.
Get bollocked by the wife for keeping shite that I’ll never get round to fixing
Dispose of thing in recognised place of refuse disposal.

Even when in our house where we have separate bins for recyclables and compostables. After the olds have visited we tend to find things in the wrong bin. I think if Liverpool council hadn’t had a “If you don’t compost we’ll frown at you” campaign, the olds would still be chucking out plastics and glass to landfill. Although to be fair my dad has always separated his bottles and papers, but mum just puts anything resembling rubbish into the bin. I think my dad separates the bottles because when he was young he could take bottles back to the shop for the penny deposit and newspapers were always useful for a variety of purposes. Whereas my mum sees that as a bit lower class and although my mum comes from the roughest arse end of Garston, she sees herself as having worked her way up to near the top and is quite proud.

The wife’s mum tends to just lump everything into the same bin despite constantly being told by her daughters that there are greener ways to do things. Though to give her her due she does switch everything off at the wall when she has finished. Not something I can hold my hand up and say I do religiously and she doesn’t drive a car (my dad drives a petrol guzzling Ford Focus) so I suppose that off sets some of her carbon foot print slightly.

I read this…..Is it right? Are your olds part of the throw away generation? How about you?

Wet

I watched the last remaining survivors clinging to the life raft. They had been adrift for some time allowing the cold north easterly wind carry them through the mist. The waters were uncannily still and they observed little wavelets lapping at the shore of two distant islands.

Continue reading “Wet”

Day Two: A Room with a View (Or Just a View)

This is the view

In the wooly wilds of North Wales, there is a place dear to me. A peaceful place. A place where magic awaits. A serene place where the only loud noise is the occasional jet fighter from Valley flying over head or the farmer making bales of hay.

This place is nearly  unpronounceable at a campsite at the base of the large mountain. I won’t tell you where it is exactly, but regular readers will know. I don’t want the area spoilt by coach loads of people seeking peace and serenity.

 

Lovely isn’t it?

This is the spot. Miles from anywhere. Peaceful. Quiet. No people to bother you.

In my minds eye it is always this glorious too. Skies as blue as language in a working mans club. Grass as green as my old Hyundai Coupe. A climate as warm as toast. Beautiful. Quiet.

Why this particular view? Well during the day the sea looks so calm and serene there. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you may witness the clouds rolling in off the sea like something from an eerie movie. Shrouding everything yet still allowing parts of the landscape to peek out like cheeky little kittens.

A bit like this

251421_179327182133749_100001694063812_434487_2068345_n
Misty eyed

But I know. I know from bitter personal experience. This place can be cold, wet and stormy. But it doesn’t stop me from remembering it as a warm welcoming place.

It is no wonder that this area is steeped in mythology and wonder. This is where Arthur had his Camelot. Nothing to do with Glastonbury or Cornwall. This is the land of the dragon. Where the isle of Avalon lies over the treacherous waters. Where few come. Where fewer remain.

Those that do, and stay the night, are treated to a display of stars bright. Of distant light from the Pembrokeshire coast cast from lighthouses across the bay. Shooting stars, dolphins basking in the light of the setting sun. All this. With naught but peace and quiet.

It is where I want to be scattered should I be cremated. It is where I would like to spend my last waking moments on the Earth.

No mobile phone signal. Nothing. Just peace and quiet.

Badger in Wales
Badger in Wales
Euro Flag

European Parliamentary Elections 2014

Euro Flag2014 is the year of European elections in the UK. There are also local elections taking place, which I will discuss in another entry.

The European Union is a fantastic idea on paper. Open borders, centralised law making, distributed wealth and a currency. In reality, as with all political things, its corrupt, bloated full of wasted opportunities and surrounded by those who want to kill it dead.

I’m very pro EU. Sorry, but I am. I’ve actually followed developments in Brussels and  I’ve embraced the positive changes that being a member of the EU has brought us over the years. I’ve looked on agape at the frequent attempts by the British government to hide positivity and smother democratic union by claiming to the electorate that they alone develop the policies handed over by Brussels.

breonI’ve seen and understood why and how Television sans Frontiers has tried to quell the swamping of European culture by American candy coated drivel. I’ve even watched Broen and Salamander.

I’ve crossed borders, lived in a city regenerated by large amounts of EU redevelopment funding and I’ve taken advantage of a health card that entitles me to healthcare in the EU. There are many other reasons why I am pro-EU. But this is not the place.

Sadly in the UK most people don’t feel any benefit from voting in EU elections. Which is a shame. It’s pretty much the same feeling that the Germans had in 1930. Apathy opens the door of doom and disaster.

In Daventry we fall under the East Midlands. In the East Midlands we have 9 possible political candidates to choose from. Dishearteningly, none appear to be openly pro-EU. The parties running this year are:

An Independence from Europe – Fascists

British National Party – Racists

Conservative Party – Bankers

English Democrats – Fascist racists

Green Party – Bunch of hippies

Harmony Party – Dictatorship

Labour Party – Populist Communists

Liberal Democrats – Liars that bend in the wind like sheaves of wheat

UKIP – Fascist Racist Bankers

Not much variety really. There is a choice of Fascists, dreamers or wankers. No wonder the UK is disenfranchised with the whole EU thing.  I truly believe that there needs to be a pro-EU party in the UK which none of the parties running seem to be. A party that extols the virtues of being in the EU.

Of course, long term readers will recall that usually during election time, I invite candidates to come to my house and tell me why I should vote for them. However, as these are parties in the European election, most of the people running don’t even live in the same area. So it’s highly unlikely that they’ll join me in the pub or even knock at my door. Besides, I don’t want to be seen in public with thugs, toffs or hippy types as it may damage my credibility.

Chris Heaton-Harris is our local MP. He didn’t take me up on my offer at the last election. In fact he blocked me on Twitter for unknown reasons. Several elections before this, the local candidates didn’t take me up on the offer either. It’s almost as if they don’t want the free publicity or, for that matter, my vote. Our current MEPs are:

Third ReichWhich also doesn’t brew much in the way of hope.

But despite my concerns of being brushed with the same brand of tar as hippies, thugs and toffs by association, I am opening up my usual “Come and tell me why I should vote for you” offer to European Parliamentary Election candidates.

As for the lack of choice? Well I am concerned that we are heading back into an era of discontent and nationalism. The political conditions are Reich.

I’ll have you Copper…

AD9W4ATomorrow history is made.

Not something like the creation of a cure for a terminal disease. Nor (hopefully) some catastrophic event where millions of lives are snuffed out in a moment. Nor is it something like finding a teaspoon on Mars.

No.

Tomorrow the British public elect regional Police and Crime Commissioners.

What’s that?

You read right. The British public….that’s me and the people around me….elect….as in vote for, like you would for say, a president or MP….. regional….as in local….. Police and Crime Commissioners1…..Big decision making honchos in the police force.

The end of an era. A moment in history.

So you would think that such a monumental moment in history would be heralded with fanfare, instruction and promotion. Well…you would be wrong. Here in sunny Royal Leamington Spa there has been little in the way of canvassing. 

voteryMuch like during the local and general elections the half hearted mehness of the candidates is not giving me insight into who to vote for nor is it inspiring me to vote. Regular followers of my blogs (Hi Louenne) will probably remember during the local elections in Barnsley I challenged the candidates to come to my house and suggest why I should vote for them. Nobody did, so I voted for an outsider. I also complained of a similar lack of canvassing during the general elections.

I later wrote a piece about local MP Jeremy Wright who, until recently, had only discussed chickens once in Parliament, now seems to be a most prolific letter writer in his new job in the ministry of Justice2

For the Police and Crime Commissioner of Warwickshire there had been nothing much until Mrs Fruitcake received a card addressed to her from the local independent candidate Mr Ron Ball. [http://www.ronball4pcc.co.uk]

1061559606Ron Ball seems to be on the ball. A simple leaflet with a brief résumé, a picture of him and the statement “KEEP PARTY POLITICS OUT OF POLICING”. Nice. 

Mr Ron Ball says that if he is elected he will :

Strengthen policing

Ensure no reductions in policing

Spend money on nice offices for him to use

That’s fairly honest. I mean what else could he say? Nothing, I noted about the commissioning of crime. But maybe he doesn’t really want to advertise that bit.

So like in Barnsley, as Mr Ron Ball was the only person to bother to send some information about himself and why he was standing even though it wasn’t addressed to me, he was going to get my vote.

That is…..Until last night.

Two days before the election a leaflet lands on the mat. This time from the LABOUR Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate – James Plaskitt. [http://www.jamesforwarwickshire.co.uk]

Hurrah! Someone else to consider.

rly8qdhdlyqyo4xytnq2Mr Plaskitt says he will:

Strengthen policing

Make sure there are no reductions in policing

Spend money on nice offices for him to use

Ok. So that’s pretty much standard then. Then…at the top of the back page….

“I WILL KEEP POLITICS OUT OF POLICING”

How? Hang on, you’re the LABOUR PCC candidate. And you’re going to KEEP POLITICS OUT OF POLICING?

That’s like Jimmy Saville running for Child Protection officer saying “KEEP MOLESTATION OUT OF CHILDRENS HOMES”

I don’t get it.

picture-9089As yet Gnomepants Heights is still to receive propaganda from the Conservative candidate, Fraser Pithie [http://www.fraserpithie.org.uk/] . Being a Conservative area he probably thinks “I don’t need to do anything as people in this area automatically vote for conservative here anyway. I mean if Adolf Hitler was standing as a conservative then people here would vote for him.”

 

 

But no doubt he will say that he will:

Strengthen policing

Make sure there are no reductions in policing

Spend money on nice offices for him to use

While probably also keeping politics out of policing.

Hmmm. In all that’s like saying “Vote for me and I’ll do the job” which is to be expected. But it’s so confusing. It’s like being asked to pick your favourite pot of jam. Where all the jams are the same flavour and brand.

Especially as I notice a distinct sweeping resemblance. They all look the same. Perhaps they are. Maybe they are all the same person Surprised smileSo I’ll put the challenge out there.

Dear Messrs BALL, PITHIE and PLASKETT.

I, Stegzy Gnomepants, challenge you to come to my house and tell me why I should vote for you.

I won’t tell you where I live. You must prove your policing skills by using detective work to find me. If you find me and tell me why you’re the person I should vote for you’ll get my vote. And a photo opportunity.

Lots of love

Gnomepants

I’m not holding my breath. My challenge failed in Barnsley. However all this insight into the candidates might be in vain. During research for this article I came across several items about voter apathy. Interestingly enough, one about apathy in Barnsley. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20301308]

I’ll let you know if anything happens.

 

 


1 – A person that commissions both Police and Crime? Who would commission crime? “Oh we need more burglaries in that area and we should have some more stabbings in that area….”

  2 – Granted, Mr Wright is doing an important job in Parliament now and no doubt his wrist is swollen due to the 3-4 letters he writes each day. But my point remains, he doesn’t seem to be doing much specifically for the Coventry and Warwickshire area. He’s too busy you see….writing letters about prisons and the cost of jam in police cells.

Local food

The following post appeared hidden on LJ in 2009 as it was part of my journalism degree portfolio.


Belper Farmer's Market

This weekend I undertook my second visit to Belper’s farmers market. It has been nearly a year since my last visit and it was good to see some familiar faces. Surprisingly the market has grown a little bit since my last visit with the inclusion of three new stalls. Furthermore, it seems that the popularity has grown lately rather than reduced as would have been expected in the current economic climate.

Indeed, Belper’s other local food gem, the award winning Fresh Basil delicatessen was just as busy as I remembered. A sign that all things are still ticking over nicely while other consumer areas are having to tighten their belts.

It would seem that though rising grain and feed prices are forcing independent producers to raise their food prices to record levels and the supermarkets with their “Pile it high sell it cheap” are distracting consumers with their consistently low prices the popularity of local food retailers is still burgeoning.

Tebay Services

But what concerns me is the insistence of some purveyors of local food to stock items that are clearly not locally produced. I’m talking about the Tyrell’s and the Bay Tree Preserves of the world here. To me it seems that some of these local food retailers are stocking brands that are becoming the behemoths of the independent retail world. During my on going tour of farm shops nationally I’ve noticed the same four or five brands recurring. Surely if I travel to the delightful farmer run Tebay services on the M6 I’d expect to see the delights of Cumbrian fare. Jams, chutneys and sauces produced by Cumbrian food producers. Indeed I would, but there, on the shelves are these “foodie” brands.

Perhaps it is instilled in our culture to stay loyal to particular brands. Perhaps these are farm shop brands we should now become familiar with much in the same way we do of Heinz or Pedigree Chum. Or perhaps it’s because we’re too corrupted by supermarket doctrine to shy away from familiar brands. I couldn’t say.

However this fascination with brands concerns me. Where do newcomers get a look in? It may be that finding a distributor is tricky for smaller scale producers. Moreover, it may be that the smaller scale producers find it difficult to produce their wares in the quantities that retailers demand. But isn’t that the ethos behind local food? Food produced locally by small scale independent food smiths. While I’m not expecting the local WI to be producing jams on a Hartley’s scale, I do expect to be able to sample artisan jams depending on the area I am in.

Artisian Jam yesterday

This phenomenon is not only restricted to the produce. Take farmers markets for example. This month I’ve been to five farmers markets in the region. One artisan meat producer had a stall at all five of these markets, at one market it was at least 90 miles from it’s home base.

Now I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. What I am saying is I am concerned. I worry that if this trend continues unabated we will be in a similar situation as we are with independent beers. The smaller breweries being bought by the brewing giants only to be closed in an apparent effort to reduce the competition. Ask any passing Tom, Dick or Harry to give a real ale name and they’ll probably tell you something by Shepherds Neame or Adnams. Where once these were struggling breweries, now they produce ales on such a vast scale that differences in quality and flavour are apparent. Are we in the same situation with real food? Is real food in danger of being clouded by the success of the few at the detriment to the many? Only time will tell.

Goths are nice middle class kids

So G P Taylor came to Barnsley Library to launch his new collaborative book Out of the Shadows which has been written by kids from Dearne High in Barnsley. I managed to squeeze 3 minutes of interview from him……

You can listen to my interview with GP Taylor here (approx 3mb dialup fans)

Transcript

– Topic 2: I Don’t Care About Apathy: What I “Should” Care About – But Don

**Sigh**

In order to be at one with the Static Cosmos, one must achieve a state of supreme stillness.
This state is known as Apathy.
The word APATHY derives from the Atlantean. A-PATH-Y.
A meaning A. PATH meaning PATH. And Y being an abbreviation of WHY.
Quite literally A PATH TO THE MEANING WHY.

Hugo Rune, The Book of Ultimate Truths

If Apathy was an Olympic event, I’d win gold. I tend to swagger through my life procrastinating, doing the minimum and somehow coming out the other side feeling contented with my doings. However, I am aware that apathy is as dangerous as say, heroin, marmite or even ignorance. I’m sure I’m not alone in my apatheticness.

Long post.

Writer’s Block: The X-Files Birthday

I used to love the X Files my early to mid-twenties were spent being almost fanatical about the programme. The first two and a half series were shown on BBC2 regularly on Thursday evening at 9pm. I would set my video, disconnect the telephone and chill out on the couch while I watched the unfolding adventures of Mulder and Scully.

read all about it