Panic buying

Let’s be safe out there people … it’s madness.

The news is either full of stories about virus doom or virus induced panic buying. I kinda miss the ‘Britain has gone brexit bonkers’ stories now. So with the images of empty shop shelves, I ventured out to the supermarket with a certain amount of trepidation. My extensive survival prep shopping list was a loaf of bread, a pack of Curly Wurlies, a bottle of milk and tea. That will surely tide us through the end of days.

I arrived at 8.40am which normally ensures that I have the shop to myself apart from the three shop assistants. Not this morning. The car park was heaving. Is it the day before Christmas? Inside was not much better. Rammed with shoppers. Not seen a crowd like this since the ‘Everything for a Pound’ Store had a sale.

It was bizarre watching the frantic shopping. Trolleys rammed full. So many seemingly sensible people falling into the panic buying madness. But this was a very Yorkshire panic. People still had time amongst the panic to stop and talk about the weather. In other parts of the country items like toilet paper, hand gel and paracetamol tablets have been stripped as if consumed by a plague of locusts. Here those items were still well stocked. In fact I didn’t see anyone buying them. No the items of panic choice here were different

  • The saver pack of soap bars (4 for a £1)
  • Cadbury’s Chocolate
  • Tins of mushy peas (one chap had a basket filled with just these)
  • Custard powder
  • Cheese
  • Beer, lager and wine.

I have to say that if I was going to panic buy I would rather stock up on £100 worth of beer and chocolate rather than 50 rolls of bog paper.

My hand basket was easily filled with my items until I arrived at the tea section. No Yorkshire Tea. No pigging Yorkshire Tea. Stripped bare. Oh the humanity. I had to buy another brand. Bloody philistines. The virus crisis is so much worse than I ever imagined. Stand by your pitchforks people.

How wrong I was

Not our garden, this is from a neighbours garden. Very jealous especially of the lawn which when cut always resembles a bowling green. So unlike our used rugby pitch.

Another stormy and very wet day. That’s the third weekend in a row for us. The weather is doing nothing for our souls. Nor is the imminent return to school. His anxieties levels are starting to peak now. Soon he’s back into that alien environment. The hope is that he will return and he’s been moved up in at least one subject. Just move him up in History and it would boost his confidence so much. I fear that’s a pipe dream. I would also be staggered if the support system has suddenly improved. How can it. It’s the same teaching team, with the same school education strategies and with schools struggling for resources. But on the bright side we have been told to celebrate as soon we will have a new blue UK passport. A passport made in France….

Maybe he will decide to abandon the failed school project. Can’t blame him and I would fully support that. It would be so worth it to lift this cloak of anxiety which often suffocates him. It’s not as if the school approach is delivering results. In most subjects he’s bored and starting to stagnate. I have asked school for the latest benchmark data on his reading, writing and performance. Again I’m not holding my breath. I’m still waiting for school to do any meaningful assessment work on his reading or writing. I suspect it will be spelling tests and nothing else. The Physiotherapist contacted school to say that he was clearly struggling with handwriting and asked what concerns the school had about his handwriting. The response back was that no teacher had raised any concerns. Really….

At his last school they worked with the heath service to monitor his reading age every quarter. He left that school with a reading age three years below the expected level for his age. His current school has so far refused to do another benchmarking assessment. The argument is that he’s doing so well and a benchmark would not change his teaching programme. Read that as they cost money and all kids get the same set teaching approach. Well if you don’t have benchmark information how can you say he’s doing so well. We don’t know if he’s catching up or if the age gap is widening.

It’s funny looking back at this parenting gig. I always realised it would be frustrating and tiring. But I always assumed the school system would largely take care of his education. How wrong I was.

Yellow

On one church wall it’s a thin carpet of yellow. The colour helps life the spirits on this rather somber day. Somber for some of my country but for others it’s a day of celebration.

By the time you will have read this post my country will have left The European Union. A decision which has spilt this country apart. A decision which has turned our country into a less tolerant, increasingly inward looking nation. Looking at the antics of some of our so called politicians over the last few weeks has not been a pleasant experience. They have brought further shame onto the UK.

So sorry friends you didn’t deserve this. They don’t speak for all of us.

Lo siento amigos, no te merecías esto. No hablan por todos nosotros.

Mi dispiace, amici, che non te lo meriti. Non parlano per tutti noi.

Désolé mes amis, vous ne méritiez pas cela. Ils ne parlent pas pour nous tous.

Mar sin tá cairde brón orm nár thuill tú é seo. Ní labhraíonn siad dúinn uile.

Tut mir leid, Freunde, das hast du nicht verdient. Sie sprechen nicht für uns alle.

Desculpe amigos que você não merecia isso. Eles não falam por todos nós.

Dus sorry vrienden, je hebt dit niet verdiend. Ze spreken niet voor ons allemaal.

Så ledsen vänner att du inte förtjänade detta. De talar inte för oss alla.

Žal prijatelji, da si tega niste zaslužili. Ne govorijo za vse nas.

Prepáč priatelia, ktorých si si nezaslúžil. Nehovoria za nás všetkých.

Îmi pare rău prieteni că nu ai meritat asta. Nu vorbesc pentru noi toți.

Tak przepraszam przyjaciele, że nie zasłużyliście na to. Nie mówią za nas wszystkich.

Allura sorry ħbieb li ma ħaqqniex dan. Ma jitkellmux għalina lkoll.

Taigi, gaila draugų, tu to nenusipelnei. Jie nekalba už mus visus.

Žēl draugus, ka jūs to neesat pelnījis. Viņi nerunā mūsu visu vārdā.

Sajnálom barátaim, hogy nem érdemelted meg ezt. Mindannyiunkért nem beszélnek.

Lypámai fíloi pou den áxizan aftó. Den miláne gia ólous mas.

Joten anteeksi ystäviä et ansainnut tätä. He eivät puhu meidän kaikkien puolesta.

Nii et sõbrad, te ei väärinud seda. Nad ei räägi meie kõigi eest.

Promiňte, přátelé, tohle jste si nezasloužili. Nemluví za nás všechny.

Tolkova sŭzhalyavam priyateli, che ne ste zasluzhili tova. Te ne govoryat za vsichki nas.

I didn’t vote for this but it is what it is. So now we have to carry on, make the best of it. Hoping it works out for us and it works out for our European friends. In my heart I am still European. I still want a European Passport. Try explaining Brexit to young people . I try to explain it to our Son. “This is so wrong Dad, I am European”. My head is telling me that the next generation will reverse the decision and we will come back to Europe.

Goodbye but not farewell.

Terrible Poetry

It’s Thursday so it time for a bit of terrible poetry in the form of Chelsea Owens weekly competition. This week the rules are

  1. The Topic is an epic poem about a great adventure. Laudable deeds and grand gestures will be your comrades-in-arms, even if your adventure proves to go no further than locating a missing sock.
  2. These sorts can run rather long, so let’s cap the poem at a Length of 200 words. Yes, Fishman, you may write fewer than 200.
  3. Rhymes are unnecessary, yet contestants will be awarded bonus points for archaic ones.
  4. Make it terrible, I say! A great shout must be heard from deep within The Woods of Whispering that Princess Sock has been found, and is begging you to stop singing your ballad. Forever.
  5. If the Rating must, it may rise to PG-13. Remember that insults from these times moste often ran the gamut of brigand or knave.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (January 31, 2020) to submit a poem to Chelsea.

We start out on this crazy epic adventure

A divided party for such a risky reckless venture

Saying goodbye to friends is always hard

Especially when they neighbours in our backyard

Off on our own into the great wide open

Led by our leader who is so outspoken

Into the massing storm clouds we strike out

On a wing and a prayer without any real clout

Many wolves circling claiming to be our new friends

Sign on the dotted line and you can reap the dividends

But only if you agree to the orange wolfs demands

Give me your NHS and we can happily shake hands

Don’t forget as part of the deal you take our chlorinated chicken

It’s full of good stuff honest and it won’t make you sicken

An epic adventure without any real plan

Hoping countries are nice to us including Kazakhstan

Even before we leave the lies and untruths are beginning to appear

While those making hedge fund fortunes continue to sneer

On any epic adventure you need a swashbuckling hero

Sadly we have no Aragorn to lead us just a bumbling self centred zero

This adventure of ours has a name called Brexit

Please excuse me now as I try to leg-it.

Green and pleasant land.

Welcome to Britain. A green and pleasant land.

A country where this man has just won a massive majority. A man who continues to cover up his repeated cockups which has led to a British Citizen bring help in Iran since 2016. Now his focus is on trade deals and turning the country into a trumped up lap dog. Sadly the poor British Citizen can’t offer a trade deal so she is stuffed.

Where this man from our Government claims that he has more common sense than those who died in the Grenfell Tower Disaster. He has made millions from his hedge fund company on the back of Brexit.

Where this man has been our Schools Minister since 2014. The man responsible for the current state of our schools. The man responsible for the introduction of testing for 4 year old kids. And the man who said kids taking time of for bereavement was like an extended holiday.

And a country where this man has just been awarded a knighthood. A man who introduced sweeping and brutal benefit reforms which has led to unprecedented levels of misery and is probably responsible for the deaths of hundreds who lost benefits.

Britain a green and pleasant land.

*** the photos of these lovely human beings are from The Guardian, Inside Croydon, Yorkshire Post, Change.org

People of Blyth

It’s Friday the 13th. It feels like a real horror story in Britain today. A new dawn of terror.

People of Blyth I really hope your decision to vote Conservative works out for you. I really hope Boris Johnson follows through on his promises. He gets Brexit done then finds money to cut taxes and spend more on public services like our health service. Although a Bart Simpson quote comes to mind.

You just bought another load of crap from the world’s fattest fertilizer salesman.”

To be fair to Blyth I could have picked a number of Northern English Towns and Cities. That includes my childhood home town – Redcar. Or as Johnson has now called it Bluecar. I hope people remember that Redcar is named after an area of poorly drained land. Kjar (Car) is old Viking word for marsh. Maybe Conservative Blue and poor drainage are a suitable combo.. My old Dad always said he would never ever vote Conservative. He must be turning in his grave at a Conservative MP of Redcar.

So we wake up to Boris Johnson as the Prime Minister. I was careful there not to say our or my PM. He certainly is not my PM. He needs to earn that. If he proves himself capable and trustworthy then I will start to call him MY PM. His remit is to get Brexit done. As far as many are concerned that is the a Brexit debate finished. We are now leaving. Leaving hopefully with the best negotiated terms and relationships possible. Although many of his backers want to have the process fail so they can just crash out of the EU without any constraints. I genuinely think it’s the wrong call but we have lost the argument and IT IS WHAT IT IS. We need to move on.

I’m not going to rant at the majority of people who voted Conservative. Your opinions and values are just as valid and heartfelt as mine. I do shake my head at some of the reasons a worryingly large number of people decided to vote on. Ones I have personally heard include

  • I’m not voting Liberal as the leader is a woman,
  • I’m voting for Boris because he is funny,
  • I’m voting for Labour as Gary Neville (ex Footballer) said he was,
  • I’m not voting Labour as they backed the Terrorist who attacked a London Bridge (a fake news story)
  • I’m voting Conservative as they will teach Europe a lesson because they are to blame for our problems.

Simply staggering….

Our political system is broken – probably beyond repair. Increasingly money buys you power. We have political leaders who openly lie and spread unfounded rumours. We have effectively a state sponsored public broadcaster while the other news outlets are in the hands of a few Conservative supporting billionaires. Media groups who openly flout electoral law and favour the incumbent government. Where opposition parties are scrutinised and vilified while at they same time reporters act as a mouth piece for government propaganda. It’s not even subtle anymore. A BBC News reporter days before the election told viewers that Boris Johnson ‘so deserves’ the victory he is hoping to get.

We have potential Russian meddling in our elections. A crucial report on this was buried by the Government a month before the vote. But let’s be fair to Russia it’s not as if the UK or the US have not also interfered in the the affairs of other nation states as well. If we do it why can’t they.

We have a fragmented opposition where the two main players have lost the plot and would much rather fight each other than actually focus on trying to be a credible government in waiting.

We have a ridiculously out of date electoral system that makes it virtually impossible for parties like the Greens to make any headway. Yet it gives huge majorities to a part that gets less than 50% of the vote.

We have a United Kingdom which is literally falling part. As much as Johnson has denied it his Brexit Plan will split Northern Island off from the rest of Britain with a dedicated border control. Scotland now votes in an entirely different direction than England. Scotland voted against Brexit. Scotland votes SNP. How can calls for independence be denied any longer. It’s probably appealing to Boris as he would get rid of a large and vociferous opposition grouping. Locking in a Conservative Government for a generation.

And then we get back to the good people of Blyth and Redcar. A political system which has for years ignored them and failed them. Now we have a hardcore of disillusioned voters who have little faith in their politicians and leaders. No wonder they see Brexit as a way of bringing change.

So we batten down the hatches. Focus on what is truly important – family and friends. Do whatever we can to protect them while doing our bit for the environment. Completely block out the tainted media groups like the BBC which simply cannot be trusted anymore. Find our own news sources. And we move on hoping that things don’t go as badly wrong as I fear. I really fear for minority groups, those who are sick, those who are on benefits, those who are out of work and I am petrified about what will now happen to our environment and wildlife. So ends the rant and now I get back to being a crap dad trying to cope with whatever life chucks at me. Fingers crossed I don’t need to mention Boris again.

Bubble burst

Dad why are you smiling.

I’m playing that mind training game. My brain age has been assessed as 28.

I take that it’s 28 months and not years then Dad.

Consider my brief basking bubble has been officially burst.

I was listening to a chap on the radio basking in the news that Brexit has moved a step closer. In his bubble this is wonderful. The new deal our great PM has negotiated is brilliant. Billions been taken away from Europe and will be given to our NHS and schools. Taxes will come down. Businesses will boom. Wages will rise on the back of all these wonderful new trade deals. For our country and our kids I really hope his bubble is not burst. I really do.

I wish I was in this Brexit bubble – but I’m sadly not. This brilliant deal is based on two dubious principles.

  • A Customs Union Border in the Irish Sea splitting the UK in two with Northern Ireland effectively staying under EU trade rules. Bizarrely our PM said last year that this idea would be a disaster and no Government could ever sign up to it. Equally bizarrely our Foreign Secretary has said the arrangement will be a great deal for Northern Ireland. Staying in the Customs Union is a special deal. Ok so why is this special deal not been given to Scotland, Wales and England. Oh yes I forgot that would mean staying in the EU.
  • All the important negotiations on trade and relations with the EU will be done after we officially leave. Basically we would have 14 months from leaving to sort this out. So basically we leave without known on what basis we are going. But here’s the rub. Here’s why many on the Right love this idea. It gives the Government the right to leave with no deal. Just have to wait 14 months then thy can blame the EU. That’s the crash and burn strategy many on the Right have always wanted.

The bottom line is this new Brexit Deal is a BAD DEAL which was rejected last year. Rejected even by the team pushing it now. It’s a Great Deal for the Rich and a BAD DEAL for the rest of us. Again I hope I’m wrong but deep down I do fear for the future. No I don’t think the Country will go bankrupt. Life will continue. But it will be worse. We are not in a strong bargaining position for the new trade deals. Any deal with Trump will mean opening up our NHS to his big business friends. To compete the Government wants Britain (now Northern Ireland remains effectively in the EU) to move to an economy which is based on low wages and zero regulations. Where the drive is for tax cuts and profits for the Rich. Our wages are going to fall and our worker rights are going to be eroded with no safety net of public sector support.

But apparently I’m missing the point of Brexit. One of the biggest supporters of Brexit has said ‘Brexit was never just about the money’. That’s easy for you to say when your not exactly short of a penny or two. But ok point taken. Let’s look at travel rights. Britain’s will lose the right to travel freely in 26 countries and will not benefit from free or discounted medical cover in those countries. That’s not so good. One of the first actions of Brexit will be to scrap EU regulations on Food Standards, Environment Protection, Freedom of Speech, Workers Rights, Maximum weekly working hours, Maternity and Paternity Rules. The rules designed to protect us. Thats not good either. But hang on let’s not forget we get a different coloured passport with no mention of Europe on the front. Unfortunately last time I heard the new passports will be largely produced in the EU. But let’s celebrate having a blue passport, so much nicer than that red one.

For my sons sake I really hope I’m wrong. I really do. But at the moment I’m clinging to the hope that this new deal is rejected. Yes in an ideal world I would like to stay in the EU. The EU is certainly not perfect but it’s a whole lot better than the current alternative. But if we do go then WE still have time to do Brexit right. Just agreeing to keep Freedom of Movement would make a huge difference. And yes in our little bubbles we can still have our Blue Passports.

Worth it

The rain clouds finally moved on and the sun shined briefly today.

If you open your eyes it’s amazing what gifts this beautiful world of ours will bestow on you.

The news in many countries is usually grim these days. In the U.K. we find our country run by the most extreme and dangerous government this country has seen in centuries. Your either completely agree with them or you are branded a traitor. An enemy of the people. We have become a country were a PM is hailed by his supporters like a conquering roman emperor after he was found guilty of breaking the law by our highest court in the land. A country where the PM is openly stoking the fires of intolerance and hatred. Where intimidation is commonplace. Brexit has broken the country. Was it really worth it.

So parents have to bring up their children in this toxic environment. A world made toxic by the adults. As a generation we have monumentally failed. We continue to find new ways of making things worse. Our leaders play a daily game of who can be the biggest cheating lying dork. Who can bring down their democracy first. Who can burn the planet fastest.

But hope has not been vanquished. The decent law abiding amongst us greatly outnumber the deluded. The next generation have not been blinded by the madness and greed. The educational system may try to clip their wings but it’s the job of parents to keep those dreams burning bright. The young like Greta are the future. The planet is still staggeringly beautiful. Just a short walk can yield such wonders.

So tomorrow Johnson will continue to try and push our country nearer the precipice. But take a quick walk and look at what is around you. Take a good look at the faces of the young. See their dreams. That’s the important stuff. That’s what should be guiding our direction. Not the poisonous Brexit agenda – whether we should leave or remain. Regardless of what happens we are going to have to get the country working again. Bringing the artificial divisions together again. A time to marginalise the extremists, build bridges (not walls) and reclaim our wonderful planet again. The kids deserve that.

Terrible Poetry

It’s Terrible Poetry time as ever thanks to the Grand Bard – Chelsea Owens. This week the rules are:

  1. It’s time for another Acrostic Poem. Let’s pick a Topic of Celebrities.
    An acrostic is simple; write a word (say, like the celebrity’s name or favorite habit) down the left side, and then do a haphazard job of filling in with your poem.
  2. Length should be dependent on the word you pick, and how verbose you feel at each letter.
  3. Rhyme if you wish. Don’t if you wish.
  4. Make it terrible!! Make our eyes beg our brain to stop reading, just stop. Please; they would rather read grocery tabloids than whatever you just churned out.
  5. Celebrities and their choices can get a bit racy, so we’ll up the Rating to PG-13.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (September 27) to submit a poem to Chelsea.

*************************

Arrogant

liar

extremist

x-rated

a charlatan

New Yorker

deluded

egotistical

racist

Brexit will make him millions

ought to make his pals billions

remain was always his position

it changed to suit his self mission

self deluded craving celebrity privileged Eton boy

Destined to play as Nero with his new burning country toy

england should be for the English he proudly shouts

privately whispering he’s actually not from these whereabouts

Funding his lovers and friends with public money

easily avoiding the rules like some corrupt Easter Bunny

fibbing and lying is his way to con the masses

flippantly poking fun at those from the working classes

evading visits from the police to one of his shouting matches

lovers are kept quiet maybe with gifts paid for from our hard earned taxes

Jovial and bumbling are what the media laps up

only reporting the fake image and never about how he is so corrupt

he said he couldn’t live on his huge ministerial wage

no thought for us as he takes us back to the Victorian Age

so a man without principles or any human decency

only interested in one person and slayer of our democracy

not a man of the people just a wannabe celebrity member of the aristocracy

Choices

Life is full of choices.

This morning it was pouring down but the forecast was for sun. What to wear on the run. I opted for full rain gear. 10 minutes into the run it’s blazing sunshine. Ended up more drenched than I would have been if I had started in just a T-shirt in the rain.

The Government could have saved Thomas Cook from going under. They decided not to. Apparently they were worried about not getting the £200m back. So 22000 people world wide have lost their jobs. Countless thousands are stranded. Holidays, honeymoons, once in a life time adventures have been ruined. Lots of hard up people are losing money on the bookings they have made.

Last night in the rain storm water came in through the back door. Do I find money to replace the old back door or find the money to replace the misfiring washing machine.

A few years back the Government didn’t win enough seats in the election. It had a choice to make. It decided to find over £1billion to bribe another party to back it so they could keep their jobs in government. Wonder when we will get that money back.

A few months ago I was faced with a decision. Keep son in school or homeschool. I opted for keeping him in school on the grounds that I couldn’t afford to home school (single working parent) and hope school will improve the support to our son. Few weeks into the term of any school support has in fact stopped. Probably a bad call.

The Government had a choice to make on Brexit. It’s decided to go for a no deal crash out. An approach which will make many in the cabinet and it’s friends significant money from hedge-fund investments. It’s also will have to spend over £6billion on Brexit planning. I wonder when we will see that money back.

So in life we all have choices to make. The big difference is that the vast majority of us may get decisions wrong but they will have been taken with the best of intentions. That doesn’t apply to Government. Ultimately they are looking after themselves….