Self Belief

Source: Self Belief

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Please stop

There are many behaviours I find intensely irritating. I hate people eating loudly, cracking knuckles, using ‘like’ in every sentence. These are all behaviours carried out whilst awake. You know you are knuckle cracking, maybe eating loudly,  and even putting “like” in every sentence.

We all have irritating habits.

Those people that end your sentence for you for example. I didn’t need your help. I hadn’t suddenly developed amnesia. I should point out if I have done this to anyone,  I am a hypocrite and you can throw rocks at me. Some behaviours however I have never knowingly undertaken.

Those people at gigs who dance expressively whist checking the rest of the crowd to see if they are in fact the main attraction. I was stood behind a woman at an Eels gig in Leeds who tested my patience. I came to see the band perform not her and frankly she was just a pair of waving arms and an ego. She turned around every minute to see who was watching her have a good time. No one, that was the answer she was grasping for. However she was unaware of the dozens of pairs of eyes burrowing into her soul with contempt and hatred. But hey she had a great time. And probably very tired forearms.

Air kissing is pointless and an affectation. Its as if both parties go for a friendly peck on the cheek and spectacularly miss; but are immensely proud of their failure. If you want to greet someone with a kiss then kiss not miss.

Putting the toilet roll on the wrong way round (what is wrong with the socially inept folks who insist on having the loose sheet at the back?).

The person who gets to a checkout in a supermarket and waits to be told they have to pay before deciding to produce any means of doing so. Why hide your purse/wallet in a bag and then spend ages rummaging around in it to find it? You know you have to pay so just get the readies out in preparation.

I’m an utter curmudgeon I know. The re-embodiment of Victor Meldrew. The world is full of idiots who are blissfully unaware that they are idiots. They have no intention of correcting that state of being.

I was really going to write a blogpost about the fact that I snore.
Like a constantly growling wolf. Like a bear with sinus problems. So loud it shakes the foundations of many buildings.
I’ve snored since I was a child. It isn’t something I’m proud of. It is something I’m ashamed of. It is embarrassing, humiliating and annoying to others. I read many adverts for products claiming that my snoring can be cured. I will sleep better and feel more refreshed. It should more accurately state that everyone around me will sleep better and feel more refreshed.
The truth is however, it doesn’t bother me. It bothers everyone else . I am told I snore. I am constantly told I snore as if I never knew.
“You were snoring you know” they say.

“Really? I had no idea I snored” I sarcastically but inwardly answer the sages.

They feel obliged to tell me as if I will stop the next time I fall asleep.
Now folks, once I fall asleep, I have no control over my breathing or it’s volume.
I am not awake so have no ability to stop snoring. I don’t grind my teeth or suffer from insomnia in fact quite the opposite. I can fall asleep almost on demand.
My snoring has stopped me from sleeping anywhere communal. After all who wants to share a room with a congested bear?

So the next time you feel tempted to inform me that I do make a loud annoying noise during sleeping, just remember, I know your waking annoyances. I don’t tell you to stop saying “like” every sentence ( although I have done with my kids admittedly. I won’t stop a meal and tell you to turn the maceration volume down. You can air kiss all you want but I will only think that’s bloody annoying. Keep your wallet/ purse in your bag, preferably right at the bottom under whatever other stuff you have in there. I will be stood behind you mentally judging your selfish wasting of my precious time.

But please STOP telling me I snore.

I know I do.

 

Desperate Measures

The General Election was interesting wasn’t it? Interesting would be one word for it. It hasn’t delivered the one word she grasped following the result , certainty. Neither will it show fairness, honesty, integrity or any other one upbeat word she utters.

It certainly isn’t the two words Theresa May hoped for, Strong and Stable. She touted that the progressive parties working together would lead to a Coalition of Chaos. Well we have one except she owns it now.

Ok, I am a Labour Party member and lifelong  Labour voter. We didn’t get a majority and are not even the biggest party. We did however defy pretty much all political commentators expectations. Our membership mobilised tremendously. We offered a radical, progressive and unlike the Tories, costed manifesto. We gained 30 seats and have created dozens of very marginal Tory seats.

Yes, the Tory press tried their hardest to wipe the Labour Party off the map with scare tactics, smears and lies. The Conservatives shot themselves in both feet, their shins and most of the way up to their spine (if they actually possessed one). The electorate spoke and gave at best a tepid and at worst damning evaluation of Theresa Mays decision to have a snap election.

Theresa May has turned a small commons majority into and minority government. Let’s be clear about why I say Theresa May and not the Conservative party. It was her decision. She put her name above her party on all party slogans and leaflets. She decided to make it a presidential election, a straight fight between her and Jeremy Corbyn. This has ‘backfired spectacularly’ to quote BBC political editor Laura Kuennsberg.

Her next move was to seek support from Northern Ireland. She is attempting to make a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party. The party of bigots, homophobic, terrorist supporting, bible bashing extremists. She risks crashing the Anglo Irish agreement into a cliff face. No UK Prime Minister with any clue about the history and politics of Ireland has ever come out untainted by siding with one side.

The press and Tory party had the temerity to accuse Jeremy Corbyn of supporting terrorism because he met with Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams. And now they cosy up to a party linked with protestant paramilitaries who have murdered in the name of a warped sense of justice in just the same way that the IRA did. There is no justification for terrorist murder in any form.

Having sucked up to the right wing of Ulster, she reshuffles her loaded deck of cabinet  cards. She keeps her friends close and enemies closer. Gove returns, Johnson remains. She dare not oust any big hitters for fear they may stab her in the back.

This is mainly just news.

The point is that she has learned nothing.

She has listened to no one.

She does not appear to show any remorse or humility. She is purely and simply corrupted by power and control. Power and control mean more to her than the country’s best interests. She does not care if the population, the reputation of the country abroad or her own party suffer.

She is for the moment, Prime Minister.

She has been found out though.

She can never be trusted again. The sycophants who surround her, should never again be trusted. The few prominent Tories who have spoken up against her have been ignored by her. She is out of touch with every aspect of her support.

We must remain calm and grow our membership base. We must turn the Labour Party into an even more popular, progressive mass movement. Our membership moves quickly towards One Million members. The party has engaged the young like never before.

The Tories have had their day. Their cruel, inept management of the UK has been exposed. There are many moderate Tories wishing for a return to the moderate, even some could say compassionate conservatism of pre Thatcher.

She once said that there is no such thing as society. Well I tell you what Mrs May, you better realise very quickly that there is.

And we’re pretty angry now.

 

 

The Youth Vote – FOR THE MANY

I first voted in 1983. I lived in one of the safest Conservative seats in the UK. The sitting MP was Minister For The Armed Forces and a toady to his leader. He was once trapped in a lift at the Ministry of Defence and insisted his civil servants pass papers under the door so he could continue working whilst unable to exit the lift. This was more about word getting back to Margaret Thatcher, that he carried on is site of obstacles such as a broken lift!

In 1983 there was clear distinction between parties. The Labour party presented (very badly) a progressive left wing manifesto. It scared the electorate in many ways. Their leader, Michael Foot was a passionate, intellectual who was vilified by the press and public for being scruffy and out of touch. They ran a poor campaign against the Tories riding high on post Falklands War euphoria. Two pivotal players in Labours future were elected as MP’s in 1983. Tony Blair and Jeremy Corbyn. They represented the idealogical poles of the party although in those early days Tony Blair could be said to have been closer to Jeremy Corbyn’s beliefs than he became. Blair represented Sedgefield, a constituency in the North East of England, Corbyn won in Islington North, a London constituency.

Tony Blair underwent a transformation, believing that the only way a Labour government could come to power was by appealing to the middle ground of British politics. The party eventually moved with him and they were elected in 1997. He went on to win two further elections. The Iraq war damaged his credibility and left a legacy of mistrust from many in society.

The Tories were returned to power as part of a coalition in 2010.

But you probably know all this. You will have read much about Jeremy Corbyn the protestor, the Man who fought against military action in Iraq, who sat down albeit briefly with all parties in Northern Ireland. The press make much of him meeting Gerry Adams and most is made up. Just because you sit down and talk with someone doesn’t mean you agree with them. After all John Majors government and Thatchers before had been secretly meeting Sinn Fein/IRA as well. To understand conflict, you must be prepared to listen to both sides?

So back in 1983, a young fresh faced, ginger haired 19 year old civil servant from Kent voted Labour. I have voted Labour in every election since. I do not vote because of the leader. I vote because I believe in what they stand for. I was most tested in the two later elections during Labours last stretch in government. I profoundly disagreed with the war in Iraq. I felt uncomfortable that they relied on big corporations and the City of London to prop them up. They were still however preferable to the Tories.

In 1983 I bothered to voted. I have always voted because this is how you change your political system. I always vote because I would hate to sit back and complain about the outcome if I had done nothing to change it. I vote because millions of people around the world have fought for the right to vote and we should use that power.

This election in 2017 is a crucial one. The parties have not been as ideologically divided in years. The young must realise that it is one thing to register and another to actually vote. You are the future. You will be the ones that have to live with the loss of the NHS, state education, civil rights, The increase in food banks, the loss of opportunity to own your own home. The older generation have much to look back on but will also be robbed of a future as much as you will. The difference being, you will have longer to live with the despair and inequality.

You have the chance to build a society for your future as well as ours. I want opportunity for all not based on privilege, money and postcode. I want my children to shape the future for the many not sit back and say no one listens. If you want to be heard, make your mark on June 8th. Don’t watch others cast their vote and think there’s no point because THERE IS!

Stories. 

I read. I read other people’s stories. I often start reading other people’s stories, get drawn into their worlds, their experiences, their love and pain. I feel their pain. I often move onto the next story before the end of their story. 

I write. I write stories, relive my experience through characters. My characters live sometimes fantastical, desperate, lonely lives. I am not lonely. I am a little lost but aren’t we all? I have someone to get lost with. We walk the road, hand in hand, knowing wherever it takes us, we are still holding hands. She holds my hand because she wants to see where the road takes us. None of us know the destination, the goal, the final outcome. That’s why the walk is good. It’s maybe why I don’t run. That and a certainty that I’m not designed for running. My feet hit the ground too heavily. My legs concentrate on moving me around at a speed I can cope with. I’m a quick walker, always have been. An efficient walker. But never a runner. I hated running at school. I loved rugby and cricket but that required balls, of differing shapes and dimensions. I don’t know if I shall ever be a runner. I know I’m too old for cricket and rugby and was never very good at either. But the balls made all the difference. Maybe that is another unfinished story. The road to becoming a runner? 

Our lives often pan out as unfinished stories. There is rarely an ending. When we die the story doesn’t end. We take our loved ones with us to find a new story. My ghosts are always with me. Their force diminishes over the years but stays with me. It makes us what we are. They stopped walking or running but the connection with them keeps on going. The final stage of the grieving process is acceptance. Being able to see the loved one as they were. Not someone to idealise, to venerate, to worship. They had flaws. They would be angry, argumentative, selfish, sad. They loved, smiled, laughed, made you happy. 

The story however doesn’t end. I take their stories with me. You carry other people’s stories with you. You carry their love around with you everyday. We all have enough space to accommodate the stories. 

My last novel was about ghosts. Why should only the lost, the hurt be ghosts? If ghosts exist then every dead person should have a ghost. Every animal should have one. Every organism that has ever existed on earth still exists today. Their atoms have dispersed and exist in another form now. I sit in my room surrounded by the atoms of a million blades of grass, thousands of birds, animals and other plants. Every one of those had stories. The humans may well have read other people’s stories too. May have not always finished them before moving onto the next one. Surely we should learn to appreciate the continuity of the road rather than the destination. ‘Are we there yet?’ isn’t a question that we should really be asking? 

I hope you read my stories. I hope you enjoy them enough to read to the last page but I understand if you don’t. I could never finish Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky because it was so desperate. I’m sure The author has forgiven me. He is probably watching me write. Or at least an atom of him is. 

For the Sake of Humanities!

We live in a world dominated by big business. By money, the accumulation of, the investment of. Money, Business are seen as the cornerstone of western society. To be rich, to want money, to make money is seen as pre eminent. Science is also seen as important although I suspect as a means to yet again make someone very rich. Yes I know we all need the invaluable work that scientists do to further our understanding of how our world works, to save lives, to make breakthroughs that will advance our society. We need engineers, mathematicians, computer wiz’s.

These people create wealth, create jobs, make a country’s economy strong. I have a son who is a mathematician and very proud of his efforts I am. He will be an asset to many potential employers. Interestingly though, he did not choose Mathematics because he would earn big money on graduation but because he loved the subject. There is great beauty in maths, physics, chemistry.

Then there’s this other lot. The artists, designers, musicians, historians, geographers, classicists. They make the world erm, well, what do they actually do to make our world better?

Humanities as a broad umbrella term, covers a wide range of studies that are concerned with the study of human culture. Law, politics, languages, education, philosophy, literature  come under the umbrella.

Humanities, particularly the creative however, have been under threat from successive governments across the world. The need to train future workers and scientists is seen as the key to our future. Why do we need more writers, artists, actors, musicians, historians, classics scholars? They are not always vocational courses or subjects. What job will a classics scholar go on to do? Why do we need to know about the language, culture, history of ancient Greece or Rome? What relevance does it hold in todays sophisticated hi tech society. Why do we need those that study performing arts, fine art, writers, historians?

The arts and humanities are a hugely undervalued area. Schools, colleges, universities are all living in increasingly competitive worlds. Finances are tight and decisions have to be made. Priorities must be established. The UK government has made it abundantly clear that education is there to produce the workforce of the future and that funding must be focused on subjects that will provide that future workforce. It kind of reduces education to a car factory where the only valuable subjects (components) are those that make the country (car) work. The only students that have value are those that pursue subjects with clear career goals.

The arts are after all a bit woolly and lets face it, who needs to know what happened in history. We don’t need geographers to tell us how our world works or what effect we have on it. Scientists will do that for us and they are far more valuable. This simplistic view of society and education is promoted by politicians to explain how funding education can be controlled. They think that by keeping the message simple, it will be understood. This is patronising as well as inaccurate.

The performing arts bring in billions of pounds to the UK economy. The world is enriched by British music, cinema, theatre, ballet. British cinema, theatre, music is hugely respected throughout the world. The visual arts have a rich and influential effect on the rest of the world. We are a country that continues to challenge, fascinate, inspire the wider world. They also generate large amounts of wealth for the economy. Historians hold the knowledge that can predict the future of how our world operates. By understanding the past, we can better predict the future for societies, nations, continents. The classics also lead us to understand the nature of modern society by studying the birth of civilisations.

Language is the vital tool that enables us to understand each other. The study of literature teaches us much in the same way as history. To reduce society to its mere productivity value removes the civilisation from society. We become empty, meaningless. Let’s suppose we make enormous amounts of money and our nation becomes even wealthier than it already is. Firstly, that wealth is never evenly distributed and what do you do with that wealth? Do you buy more ‘things’ ? Do you horde your wealth so there can’t have it? Do you show your wealth to others in order that you feel more satisfied? What does wealth bring? It will never enable you to be able to paint, sing, act. You will have to buy the services of those who can.

So all of a sudden, the arts have a value! They enrich, entertain, stimulate discussion and ideas. They bring beauty, joy, warmth to our lives. We cease to be cogs in a big machine. George Orwell’s 1984, stripped society of its humanity. It was a stark prediction of how the world could be under control of an unquestioning power that denies any culture, art, intellectual discussion.

Right wing politicians for many years portrayed communism as the greatest threat to our freedom but in truth, hasn’t rampant capitalism done the same? Orwell’s view of a possible nightmarish future is more sophisticated than dictatorship or communism. Government will never encourage you to question their motives because they are there to govern. It is not a dialogue as some would have you believe. Various U turns in policy of the present Conservative government have been more about the preservation of power than listening to the electorate. The politicians that persuaded millions to vote leave in the EU referendum did not do this for the greater good. The promises have already been broken and those that shouted loudest have gone remarkably quiet since. It could argued that those who argued to remain also did this motivated by self interest. Maybe politics is one part of humanities so corrupted by power and greed that we could reduce funding for courses designed to produce future career politicians (such as PPE degrees)!

We must as a society, place a monetary value on the humanities. We must treat the arts with equal respect as the sciences. Both are vital to the successful maintenance of our society. There are those that will never be scientists, technically minded, skilled in finance or business. They will however be blessed with creative and artistic talent. There are those gifted historians, students of ancient and modern languages, philosophers who have a great deal to offer. We should support and value their input not marginalise and starve of funding. So, for the sake of humanity and the humanities, please ask your government to share the cake evenly amongst education.