There was a time when the skyline in Yorkshire was peppered with sights such as this. Pit heads everywhere as industry stripped the seams of coal to power the country and industry. Now, only a few mines remain and most of them are open cast, looking nothing like the one in the photo.
That said, the pit heads of the colliery we see in the picture above were, at the time, not functioning either. Today’s picture, taken in 2010, shows Monkton Colliery Coke Works and the chimney stacks chucking out the smoke show the only evidence what the site was actively producing – coke. Though not the drinking or snorting kind, the kind used in smelting and power generation.
I regularly drove past the coke works when I lived in the area and I still remember the nasty smells and weird yellow tinge everywhere seemed to have. The closer to the stacks you got the yellower and smellier the atmosphere and surroundings. Who knows what it was doing to your lungs?
Regular readers will remember that every election, general or otherwise, I try to get the local candidates to meet me in the pub so that they can tell me why I should vote for them. Regular readers will also recall that during each election I look at the leaflets that come through the door and explain how ineffective they are as a way to wrestle my vote from me.
This week, local Kipper, Michael P. Gerard (the P is important you know) pushed his big purple one through my flap.
Well, the day is at hand. Tomorrow is election day and I am still to receive any form of communication (other than the tweets from Emma Collins) from any of the candidates running tomorrow.
I was unable to write profiles on the Liberal Democrat candidate or the Trade Unionist. Purely because I couldn’t find anything out about them. They too, like the Labour candidate, appear to not want to be elected and are happy to fritter away their deposit on a whim.
I suppose it’s like betting on horses or entering the National Lottery. Only with a higher stake.
It’s a sorry state of affairs when the candidates in the local area just aren’t bothered about promoting their cause. It’s a sorry state of affairs when potentially good candidates give up before they’ve even started the race.
Tomorrow I will vote in two elections. The local and the European. I know nothing about any of the candidates other than bold brags about how they are going to stand up. Well I’ve got news. I’m going to stand up.
None of you candidates are worth the lives of the thousands of soldiers who died in the Great War 100 years ago. Not one of you. You should be ashamed and you are an affront to democracy. No wonder that the youth are disconnected from politics. No wonder fascist groups are on the rise in the UK and EU. It is even no wonder great minds and thinkers are leaving this country for other more enlightened parts of the world. When people like you are all the people have to select as their voice once every few years. Prove me wrong. Come canvassing in Norton tomorrow. I’m in all day. Come and tell me why I should vote for you. Contact me via this blog, twitter or where ever. I’ll meet you. Convince me you are doing this for your own beliefs and not some misguided attempt at getting your name on a park bench when you die.
And so, to you dear reader, all I can urge you to do tomorrow is vote. Vote for the candidate you feel is worthy of the job of representing you in the European parliament. Vote for the candidate who you feel will do the best for your local area. Remember their promises and, if they default on them, use your greatest weapon against them to bring shame upon them. Your democratic vote and your freedom of speech.
2014 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.
I’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:
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:
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.
Way back in the noughties I had the misfortune to work in a sixth form college. Regular readers will recall this was in the post industrial landscape that is Yorkshire. Cameron’s recent moral panic calls to mind the overbearing system of “safe guarding” that was in place at the college.
I must provide some back story. The IT manager could quite easily have been diagnosed with Aspergers had he been twenty years younger. He didn’t like change. Not one bit. Dingleberry, as I will refer to him, was one of those people who insisted on particular ways. Deviation from which would bring calamity, disaster and the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
For example, one hot sunny day in May he insisted that the units, switches, servers and tape machines in the server cabinet be taken out and arranged in numerical, colour and size order. Why? No reason was given other than aesthetics.
Every piece of software had to be installed with default settings. “Out of the box”. Same with hardware. I dread to think of the security issues that he made with such a work ethic. Indeed, such was the “DO NOT TOUCH” attitude, the Active Directory contained accounts of people that had left the college over 5 years ago. That is the level of finickiness he operated on.
One day a whole class got into trouble for not submitting their history homework on time. The students were required to email their work to the teacher who would then assess the work and send it back. Only the teacher didnt recieve any work.
The teacher was a bit shit to be fair. She, like several other teachers I’ve met over the years, seemed to suffer from paranoia probably brought on by inadequacies, stress and plain stupidity. This particular teacher was convinced that this particular class had a grudge and were out to get her.
Sadly this was not the case.
However what happened was much more convoluted than any of her minor conspiracies.
The class were insistent that work had been emailed from home. The teacher became convinced that the class were telling fibs. Eventually she came to the helpdesk door to see me.
She told me that there was a problem with email.
Not so. I told her, demonstrating how I was able to send emails from an external account to my work account with ease.
The problem morphed into one to do with attachements.
Not so. Again, I demonstrated me sending emails with attachments with no issue whatsoever.
Don’t be stupid. But I’ll investigate further.
I asked the IT Manager if there was any issue with emails.
None that he could see.
I asked the IT Technician if there was any issue with emails.
Only an issue with the space between the chair and the keyboard.
I asked the Server Troll if there was any issue with emails.
No but there was an issue with his latest game of Dungeons and Dragons.
I asked the head of IT.
None that he knew of. However, I should check the newly installed spam filters.
I checked the spam filters. Therein there was over a hundred thousand emails. This was going to take me a long time to investigate.
Turned out that the spam filters contained “Out of the box” keywords. A whole lexicon or rude words, curses, inappropriateness and the like. Included were words such as: Pharmacy, penis, length, cock, schlong, kiddies, nazi, hate, escort, kill, death, murder, hitler, vagina, gash, flange, white power, drugs and much much more.
So you’ll probably now have guessed. The out of the box filtering had picked up that the emails sent to the history teacher with the assignment on the Second World War contained foul language such as hitler, nazi, gas chamber, antisemitism. The very same settings that Dingleberry refused to allow me to change.
So I changed it anyway and released the history homework (Nazi, Hitler etc), the chemistry homework (pharmacy, drugs etc) and the biology homework. I released the personal messages sent from divorce approaching husbands regarding them picking up the “kiddies” in the Escort after work to their end of the line with you wives.
I added a keyword.
I won’t say what.
But let’s just say that Dingleberry no longer received emails. Certain…important emails.
When did you last use a public loo? Today? Last week? Last month?
I think my last visit to a public loo was when I went to Tenbury Wells with Z.
Usually, when caught short, I’ll try to sneak into a pub, pretend that I’m looking for someone and do my business there. Well…not in the pub lounge…more like in the pub’s bog. But you get my meaning. This, I must explain, is only for number ones. NEVER for number twos. And only recently, number ones in urinals.
You see, I have this dislike of public bogs; Dirty, smelly and dingy cathedrals of cess and unease. Or at least that is my experience of them. Every man that enters a public loo is potentially a murderer, a druggie or a rapist. Every drop of water on the floor a potential plague bearer and every surface the path to dysentery.
Not very nice.
I suppose this began at primary school. School for me was in a Victorian building. Ageing. Falling apart at the seams. Paint peeling from the high vaulted ceilings. Wooden floors. Creepy corridors. That kind of thing. The toilets reflected a similar age. Buffed greenish brown stone urinals. The trough caked with strange solid matter and verdigris encrusted plumbing. The stalls contained low porcelain thrones that wouldn’t look out of place in a retro-furbished bathroom with rising chain operated flushers. One of the thrones was permanently blocked with matter that I care not to describe and the whole room had an odorous miasma of cheap bleach, urinary infections and damp staleness.
This was probably not the thing that kick-started my dislike of public toilets. I think it was the characters that tended to loiter in this palaces of piss stink. Mostly the bullies, the ne’er-do-wells and the feckless. You know the type, they probably grew up to be successful “business men” who peddle drugs and traffic women in their vast criminal empires or, they’re locked up in prison.
The toilets were always the last place I’d want to be. I had even been known to hold off from going to the toilet until I had returned home. Something I still kind of do. British public toilets nearly always remind me of those awful facilities at St Mary’s. Sometimes even the ones in the pubs do that too. It’s like people are not proud of toilets. They’re places that, left untended, seem to rapidly decline into dirty horrid holes.
I’ve been in nightclub toilets where the floors were sodden with liquid. I’ve been to restaurants where I’ve refused to eat because of the condition of their toilet facilities. I’ve seen sights you would never believe in platform toilets on railway stations. Even abroad, I’ve used manned conveniences that I’ve paid to use where a swish of the mop wouldn’t have made the slightest difference in cleanliness.
Now, before anyone starts kicking off about how not all toilets are like that. Let me agree with you. Not all toilets that are for public usage are like that. I’ve been in pristine bogs. So clean they smell of roses. Clean enough to pass as a toilet in a private stately home. I’ve also been in adequate bogs that, though free to use, are manned by a maintenance person who spends time ensuring that any puddles of piss are swiftly mopped up.
Then today, there came the news that a number of councils in the UK are selling off or closing their public lavs because they are no longer used or they have fallen in to disrepair. A look on the internet will uncover no end of tribute sites dedicated to the grand old public lavs that once graced UK townships. These days they are few and far between as councils cut back on budgets and sanitary services suffer.
If I had the money I’d buy one. I’d refurbish the place and charge £1 to use it. I’d ensure that the place was light, airy, clean and safe for people to use without fear of a penis being stuck through a hole in the partition. Users would not have to worry about stepping into anything unpleasant and maybe even buy themselves a freshly made coffee on their way out. The attendant would be proud of their work and rewarded for such. Maybe even make it a members only place for an annual fee of say £20. Each stall would be cleaned by the attendant after each use. No fear of druggies or buggery.
Well it looks like the press (Murdoch) is worried that the Lib Dems are gaining more support than the press (Murdoch) likes. Judging by yesterday’s newspaper headlines Nick Clegg is a Nazi paedophilic ex-priest with sadomasochistic tendencies who would bring naught but ruin.
Interestingly, last night’s leadership debate took place on….Murdoch TV. Sorry. I mean Sky.
Mr Murdoch believes, I have been taught, that he has the power to sway elections and tip the balance to his favour. This, it seems has been the case in previous elections in the UK. His support for Thatcher during her incumbency and Major during his 1992 election seemed to show that what his newspapers said was how the voting public voted. Indeed, in 1997 when The Sun switched sides to support the Labour party it is believed that Murdoch’s media empire’s influence saw to Blair winning that election. Indeed, it has been suggested that his support for Obama in his American owned press helped win Obama his election.
Murdoch’s power does not stop at newspapers, FOX and SKY TV. Far from it. Murdoch controls ageing and failing social media giant MySpace something which he paid $580million for. Unfortunately, Murdoch is trapped in this mindset that as long as people consume something unquestioningly and uncritically, they desire something and it will never get tired . This belief, it seems, is why Murdoch was demanding to know why people weren’t using Myspace anymore without being aware of the transient nature of social networking and the and fickleness of internet users. Today’s Facebook could be tomorrows Myspace
[see Johnson, Bobbie (2010) “Turmoil at MySpace blamed on News Corporation” [On-line]
So use caution when you consume media. Especially in during the current circus that is the lead up to the election. Don’t take one viewpoint, indeed even my viewpoint for that matter, as concrete. Look around. See what the other media outlets are saying and consider who controls those outlets. Notice the tricks they play like using surveys to back up what they say – were you questioned? Did you take part? Are you in the minority? Notice how they build people up then discredit them somehow when opinion doesn’t go the way they would prefer.
I know some will say “Oh I don’t pay any attention to media” but I’ll argue that you do. Maybe not directly but the people you interact with may have. I know some will say “I don’t get involved in stuff like elections or media because no matter what I believe it won’t make a jot of difference. Well maybe. But think about how like shoals of fish all move in one direction but soon as the predator appears they scatter causing chaos and disturbance in their formation.
The other danger is that Murdoch strongly believes that users should pay for the content on the internet. Now while I like the idea of charging you lot 50p to view my diatribe I am an advocate of freedom of media. But then I am also an advocate of philanthropy, something which Mr Murdoch doesn’t seem to believe in either.
One thing I noticed, as a Television and Media graduate was how those in the production and direction department used dirty tricks to try and smother the Clegg message. Frequent cut-aways from Clegg when he spoke; the positioning of Clegg in the middle; etc. All pointing to the wrinkled digit of Murdoch. A dangerous man in fear of his public not following his lead.
When one man controls the media, the media becomes his voice. When only one voice is heard; there may as well be nought silence. Indeed, when I posted this yesterday on my LJ a number of commenters drew parallels with Murdoch and Italy’s Berlesconi. Both control the media to their own end but I fear the greatest danger is not a man who controls the media and sits as the head of state but a man who pulls the strings from the sidelines. Unseen. Unelected. With dangerous ideals and a belief that the public are there to be shepherded.
Answers to comments to this post through LJ may be delayed.