Saturday, 26 May 2007
A week ago one of our mobiles broke down: need new mobile. This should be easy. My impression is that most just go out and buy phone. Not us. Let's visit all major phone shops; check out range of phones; check out range of contracts. We need broadband and so we need to consider getting broadband as a package with the mobile phone: more options. Three days later we're not much futher forward.
Five days ago our car failed its MOT; repair would cost much more than car is worth; current MOT runs out next Friday: need a new car very soon (well, not brand new but used). Put phone and broadband task on hold. We started researching cars; visited lots of garages; narrowed field to about 6 models; had test drives in four cars in three different towns. Another test drive tomorrow in 5th town and probably again on Monday in 6th town which is 100 miles away. I still have lots of thinking to do before we going visiting garages tomorrow. We actually decided 12 months ago that we needed a new car but I did nothing until now when I was forced to act.
I did sort one task out quickly. This morning I got up at 06:15, went to the toilet and then flushed it only to find that it was blocked totally. I immediately phoned emergency plumbers and got ridiculous quotes; eventully settled on £80. The man arrived at 08:15 and took 10 seconds to unblock the toilet. £80 thank you very much.
All this on top of health issues.
And to finish everything off, my team lost 1:0 to Celtic in the final of the Scottish Cup.
My brain is frazzled and wants to sleep.
Thursday, 24 May 2007
Not to be outdone CalumCarr has run his own awards based on nominations in several categories.
The winner in each category is as follows:
Best Newcomer Blog written by CalumCarr: was won by CalumCarr's Take on ... Whatever
Best Political Blog written by CalumCarr: was won by CalumCarr's Take on ... Whatever
Best Anonymous Blog written by CalumCarr: was won by CalumCarr's Take on ... Whatever
[Winning awards is great fun but I've won so many tonight readers may wonder if there was any competition. God, how cynical some of you must be! Given the award categories other blogs did have a hard time to compete but that's not my fault. I can only beat the competition available on the night and I did have to decide for whom I was going to vote. Anyway, back to the Awards Ceremony.]
Best Blog not to Support the Conservative Party written by CalumCarr: was won by CalumCarr's Take on ... Whatever
Best Blog to have Died and been Resurrected written by CalumCarr: was won by CalumCarr's Take on ... Whatever
Best Blog to have called Iain Dale "Smug" written by CalumCarr: was won by CalumCarr's Take on ... Whatever
Best Written Blog by CalumCarr: Award withheld. No blog met the judge's standards.
That was so disappointing: just when I thought I'd make a clean sweep I was denied by some idiot of a judge! What does he know about blogs? He only writes one crappy blog that few folk visit.
Monday, 21 May 2007
"Did my sick husband have to die in jail?"
This was the headline above an article in Sunday's Observer which described the tragic suicide of Alan Mullin in prison. Alan was mentally ill and should have been in hospital but was in prison where he committed suicide some days after being taken off suicide watch.
This post gives a shortened version of the background to his death which stands as a symbol of the shabby treatment of the mentally ill.
In the early 2000s Alan was diagnosed as bipolar but, subsequently, he stopped his medication and his condition worsened. Whilst in his local mental health hospital (early 2005) he tried to cut his throat and later, in desperation, his wife asked that he be sectioned only to be told that he was still being assessed.
In February, once back home, he suffered from delusions again, cut himself again, locked the backdoor to prevent a gunman entering the house and shooting him in the back of the head and sat on the kitchen floor reciting verses from the Bible. Despite this his wife managed to get him into a bath although, to pacify him, she agreed to his request to drink his blood.
In case he could overhear she didn't phone the police but went to the nearest police station and asked for help to get him into hospital. Everything started to go wrong now. The police misunderstood her request and turned up with 15 police, 5 in riot gear, a negotiator and police dogs. What should have ended quietly ended only after a 5 hour siege.
Of course , he didn't end up in hospital but in prison having been remanded in custody for 30 days. After his week's suicide watch he returned to a normal cell but he continued talking about killing himself.
On March 9 he hanged himself whilst alone in his cell.
A tragic and unnecessary death.
Alan's death would be tragic enough were he the only mentally ill patient to die in prison but sadly he is only one of many.
Why, why do we keep sending the mentally ill to prison?
Are there insufficient resources within the NHS?
Why are there insufficient resources?
Is mental health not "sexy" enough; are there not enough votes in it?
Does no-one in power care?
Well you bloody well should care!
Mental Health Provision
Behind these is a third post which answers a question posed by Lord Nazh about possible Scottish independence.
Please bear with me as I try to write these posts.
Friday, 18 May 2007
Banks through to Stiles, Jack Charlton, Moore through to Bobby Charlton, Hurst and Peters. What a team! World beaters! World Champions!
World beaters and World Champions they were but beaten this day, 15 April 1967, by Scotland: the new World Champions!!
England 2 - 3 Scotland
This was England's first defeat since their World Cup victory the previous year and, therefore, with unerring logic Scotland became World Champions; the best team in the world. Yes!!
How long Scotland retained this title no Scot knows nor cares.
1967: a year to remember for as long as 1966 is a year to forget.
Scotland - World Champions
Calum - The Delusionist
Thursday, 17 May 2007
I have to catch up.
I feel like stone-age man. (I'm as old as stone-age man!) I've had dial-up for years - I was quite an early adopter - but I haven't moved and everyone else (virtually) is racing away from me while I try to load pages in - cre - dib -ly sl - ow - ly. My frustration at the slowness, the inabiity to watch video and my lack of action has overflowed. I am going to get broadband.
Someday soon I'll commit and then you youngsters had better watch out as this oldie comes flying up on the inside.
Wednesday, 16 May 2007
I voted SNP for the first time at the elections two weeks ago primarily because they were the vehicle most likely to turn over Labour. Although my politics lie mostly to the left of Labour I couldn't vote Labour: I, like many others felt, the need for change was crucial. Hopefully, the Labour party will learn lessons and come back a changed and reinvigorated party but I don't hold my breath.
Now I have to lie in the bed of my making and accept what the future brings. Am I concerned? No! I think that the level of competence within the previous Executive was low and an SNP Executive will find it difficult not to improve upon it.
Independence doesn't concern me at the moment: the path is long and, regardless of any SNP machinations to highlight / create tension betweeen Edinburgh and Westminster, there are sufficient crossroads where we can, and I believe we shall, turn off the path.
What the SNP can get through the Parliament and how they achieve this will be of great interest to those of us who follow matters Scottish.
Interesting times lie ahead!
Go on, Alex!
Friday, 11 May 2007
Within the family we have a serious health issue which requires much of my time, effort and brain-power. When I have time, I'm often too tired mentally and physically to post but hopefully I'll manage some small posts - like my 2 posts of yesterday - and to comment on others posts. Longer posts are, I think, beyond me at the moment.
Only when this problem is resolved or, at least, under control will I be able to return to normal posting.
I think this problem was behind last week's blog death and subsequent resurrection and is the cause of my brain being "mush".
Hope to keep in touch fitfully.
Thursday, 10 May 2007
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
I think my brain is mush. For the last couple of days I've found several topics I wanted to write about but my brain hasn't been able to put the piece together. My poor frazzled brain has tripped out (drugless!!) and refused to function. I'm left, therefore, with finding a topic of interest that requires no brain power and i've found it: Scottishisms (or Scottish colloqualisms).
I'm sure there are lists available of Scottish words or Scottish phrases but here I'm only going to post a few which my parents used.
"Yer bum's oot the windae"
translates as: “your bum is out of the window”
My father would use this when, for example, we were playing cards - whist or rummy - and he knew that we were going to lose.
“Ah’ve seen mair meat on a butcher’s pencil”
translates as: “I have seen more meat on a butcher’s pencil”
means: “The person being spoken about is very slim / thin”Many of you will be too young to remember the times before electronic cash registers when a butcher would write, with his pencil, on a piece of brown paper the price of each item bought. The butcher would tally up the total cost and then wrap the items in the brown paper. Because the pencil was always on, or close to , the counter it would pick up fragments of meat but not very much. Therefore, to describe a person as having less meat on them than a butcher's pencil meant that they must be very thin.
“Ah’ve seen bigger kneecaps on a sparra’ “translates as: "I have seen bigger kneecaps on a sparrow"
means: "The person talked about is very slim / thin"
Person must be very thin if a sparrow has bigger kneecaps
"(S)he's as broad across the shudders as a kipper atween the een"
translates as: ""(S)he is as broad across the shoulders as a kipper between the eyes"
means: "The person talked about is very slim / thin"
A kipper is a herring split from head to tail, gutted, salted and smoked. The distance between a kipper's eyes is quite small. Therefore, someone described in this way must be very thin.
"Ye think yer the whole cheese and yer not even the smell."
translates as: "You think you are the whole cheese and you are not even the smell"
means: "You think you are very smart but you are not nealry as smart as you think"
I assume that this comes from the view that a whole cheese comprises rind, smell, taste and texture and so one who is not even the smell is a long long way from being the finished article or from where they think they are
Monday, 7 May 2007
What a shambles!
They couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery!!
100, 000 ballot papers rejected.
Two different ballot papers used for two different elections taking place at the same time: Scottish Parliament and Council elections.
The two elections required two different voting methods: the Scottish Parliament ballot required Xs to be inserted whereas the council elections required voters preferences to be inserted as numbers 1, 2,3,4 etc.
The Scottish Parliament ballot paper required two votes (Xs) to be made: one X in each of two columns.
Each column was for a different method of electing an MSP: one column was a vote for an individual and led to the election of an MSP for a constituency; the other column required a vote for a party and eventually led to the election of several MSPs from lists of candidates supplied by each party
The full instructions were not included on the ballot paper: 2 arrows which should have ensured Xs were inserted into the correct column were omitted from the ballot paper because there was no space. The ballot paper could not be made larger because then the paper would be too large for the electronic counting machines.
Two Xs in one column --- ballot paper rejected
One X in one column and no X in the other column --- ballot paper rejected
Each ballot paper had a barcode which had to be read by the counting machine for the paper to be valid. These barcodes were very near perforations on the ballot paper. When officials handed voters their ballot paper they (officials) had to tear the perforations. The perforations were poorly made and occasionally the barcode was damaged as the officials tore the perforations.
The Scottish Executive set up a Commission to advise on the running of the election. The Commission advised that the two elections should not take place at the same time. The Scottish Executive chose to ignore this advice.
The electronic counting machines did not work properly and counts were shut down form hours.
Apparently, at different count centres different criteria were applied to decide if ballot papers wer valid or not.
They are trying to run country.
They couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery.
A national embarrassment!!
In the last few days, several of you have been kind enough to offer suggestions to help me with my blog.
Already I have made one major change: brighter, more legible layout – thanks Ruthie.
Others suggested that I write only when I have something to write rather than feeling that I must write. This is great advice to which I am striving to adhere.
Ellee thought that I should be patient. I mentioned elsewhere that patience and I have rarely met. I don’t think I’d recognise her unless she introduced herself. Great advice, all the same.
Others thought that I should broaden the scope so that there was less reliance on British / Scottish politics and write about other parts of my life which I feel are relevant. This is where I start to find things getting difficult. Even hiding behind a pseudonym, I will rarely write about myself in any real personal way – although I did re the Virginia Tech killings but that is the exception …..
I would love to have a blog with a wide range of posts which appealed to readers with many different interests but I am incapable of writing such a blog. I’ve given lots of thought to areas into which I could venture but I have an empty notepad. Therefore, I think it would be foolish of me to try to change the blog either in direction or scope. Far better that I do what I enjoy; what comes naturally. Unfortunately for those who read the blog this means British and Scottish politics, current affairs from a British perspective and humour – attempted and lavatorial - plus the very occasional personal piece.
I will try to bear in mind the idea of broadening the blog’s interest but I’m not going to risk what I do now. I know that this approach means that my blog will, almost certainly, remain a low traffic niche blog. So be it – as another said “write what you enjoy writing” and I think that was the best advice of all.
“ …… write what you enjoy writing.”
Sunday, 6 May 2007
John Rentoul, a biographer of Tony Blair, unintentionally describes a new legal principle in his article in today’s Independent on Sunday. There is so much in the article with which I disagree but I have neither the time nor the inclination to dismember the entire article. There is one point, however, on which I must comment – the new legal principle:
Rentoul, whilst comparing the Iraq War with Suez crisis in 1956, states:
“The most damning feature of Eden's [PM during Suez crisis] conduct was his attempt to deceive his Cabinet and the US, and finally his uttering, twice, an unadorned lie to the House of Commons.
Blair was, of course, guilty of none of these crimes, and was cleared by four inquiries and one general election.”
I might have taken issue over whether or not Blair lied to parliament and over the effectiveness of the four inquiries but I don’t. What is one of the most amazing and deceitful statements I have read about Iraq is Rentoul’s claim that Blair was cleared by a general election. It is worth picking out that sentence again:
“Blair was, of course, guilty of none of these crimes, and was cleared by four inquiries and one general election.”
and there I was thinking that general elections were about electing individual MPs and, thereby, determining the party which is to form the government.
What have I missed all these years?
It’s a judicial process. If the party in power is returned we are actually clearing the Prime Minister of some unspecified crime(s). The corollary of this is that if there is a change in the party in power we find the previous Prime Minister guilty of some unspecified crimes.
Guilt or innocence decided at the ballot box.
Great idea, John!
PS John, your wife called to say you left your pills beside the bed.
Saturday, 5 May 2007
"I opened my eyes to find myself in hospital. A consultant was leaning over me.
Blog: Why am I here? What's wrong with me?
Cons: You're a tosser and ...
Blog: Well, why don't you fuck off and get some bedside manners.
[I know it's lavatorial humour but it's all I know. You may want to leave here.]
Cons: I told you. You're a tosser and ...
Blog: For fuck's sake, just tell me what is wrong with me.
Cons: I am, if you'll let me finish. Tosser and wanker.
Blog: Are you winding me up?
Cons: No! It's not pejorative but technically you are a tosser and a wanker. There are two syndromes each described with an acronym.
Blog: What? Are you telling me there are medical terms called TOSSER and WANKER?
Cons: Well, loosely: medical or psychological.
Blog: OK. I know this is a stupid question but why am I a TOSSER?
Cons: Because you fit the criterion:
Totally Over-Sensitive Scot Embarrased Remarkably
Blog: But a WANKER too?
Cons: Went Against Normal Knowledge of Emotional Responses
Blog: They're not the best acronyms are they? I'm hardly likely to visit my in-laws and say that I've been to hospital and they tell me that I'm a wanker and a tosser but ..... Guess I don't need to. They probably think this already.
Cons: See what I mean. It's not too bad! I know it's not the best but at least it is descriptive. If there is good news it is that there are very few real TOSSERS and WANKERs; you're in very select company. There are only six of you altogether. and four of them are very famous.
Blog: Come on. Tell me. Who are they?
Cons: Tony Blair, David Cameron, George W, Dick Cheney are obviously the famous ones and there's one other. You may have come across him: he's a blogger too - Iain Dale.
Blog; Yes, I've heard of Dale. But, for fuck's sake. I'm in with 3 Tories and 2 neo-cons. Christ, it's bad enough with Blogpower; they lean to the right but this is bloody ridiculous. What have I done to deserve this?
Cons: Basically because you've been a major league TOSSER and WANKER.
Blog: Do they all have exactly the same symptoms as me?
Cons: No, they're all slightly different.
Blog: Can you tell me why they're TOSSERS and WANKERS or does patient confidentiality kick in?
Cons: Confidentiality? For that shower of spinners and liars? It's bad enough that you're lumped in with them. You may as well laugh at them too. Right.
Tony Oversees Serious Sequestration of Election Resources
Was Anglican. No Knowledge of Eastern Religions
Tories Only Select Successful English Racists
What A Novelty. Kickstarted Electoral Recovery
Top Officials Stole Series of Election Results
Wants Army Now to Keep Empire Ruled
Took On Secret Service to Eliminate Rivals
Wanted to Attack North Korea with Every Resource
Totally Opinionated Southerner Selectively Erases Responses
Was Angry. No Kudos for Election Reporting
Blog: Ha! I can see how they fit in but bloody hell! I'll never live this down. Tarred with the same brush as these five. That's so much worse than being called a TOSSER and a WANKER!
Cons: Sounds as though you're better now. I think you can go home this afternoon. Nurse: Will you organise transport home for the Tosser and Wanker in bed 4. Thank you.
Cons: You know. The patient that's like Blair, Cameon, Bush, Cheney and Dale.
Nurse: Oh, the one we've been laughing at all day. OK. We'll be sorry to see him go.
Blog: Fuck this! I'm leaving now. Can't cope with being bracketed with these people!"
Thank goodness that there are only six real tossers and wankers!
Friday, 4 May 2007
Wednesday, 2 May 2007
CalumCarr’s Take on … Whatever
Died 2 May 2007
"You were not good enough to survive"
I love writing this blog. Sorry, I loved writing the blog but now, after 2 months, writing has become a chore. Initially I thought that I could write the blog for me alone and that traffic was unimportant but I have realised that having visitors is great but getting comments is even better. With few visitors and very very few comments I struggle to get the energy to write. There is only so much I can put in and I have reached my limit.
I have done my best but now I need to accept that I am unable to write a blog which is attractive to readers. Therefore, this is my last post.
The blog is dead and will be deleted in a few days.
Tuesday, 1 May 2007
Jack Straw in an article published through Chatham House talks about identity, about the need for national stories of identity which can help citizens live their Britishness. The backdrop to the article is the alienation of groups within Britain. He says:
“…we have to be clearer about what it means to be British, and, crucially, to be resolute in making the point that what comes with this is a set of values which have not just to be shared but accepted. Yes, there is room for multiple and different identities, but those have to be alongside an agreement, a contract, that none of these identities can take precedence over the core democratic values of freedom, fairness, tolerance and plurality that define what it means to be British. To be a British citizen, fully playing your part in British society, you must subscribe to that. It is the bargain and it is non-negotiable.”
On first reading I had difficulty with this section because he makes Britishness a contract that one must “sign” as though Britishness is a simple set of criteria.
What about my Britishness and Scottishness? I know the article isn’t aimed at those – like me - who already feel British but is aimed at those whose religion might conflict with Straw’s definition of national identity and the underpinning values. However, unless we want to create more difficulties whatever Straw proposes must fit all citizens.
Firstly, I consider myself Scottish and then British but, if asked, I couldn’t find words to describe even my Scottishness. I just am Scottish. I was born here. I have always lived here. As far back as I have traced – about 1750 - all my ancestors were born in Scotland. I feel British but this is a poor second to my Scottishness. I don’t feel European, ever. I know I am officially a European but the concept of Europe as an entity of which I am a citizen means nothing to me.
Some might suggest that, because I live in Edinburgh, I will have more in common with those in other large cities, for example, London or Manchester, than I do with those living in remote parts of Scotland. Certainly, my lifestyle is more similar to those in metropolitan areas than it is to those in remote Scotland but I do not identify, in any way, with other metropolitan dwellers whereas I do identify with other Scots regardless of where in Scotland they are.
The values Straw sees as underpinning national identity are freedom, fairness, tolerance and plurality but these four values have no part to play in my feeling of Scottishness (or Britishness). I might believe in them; I might live them but they are irrelevant to my national identity. Would I be any less Scottish if I were an intolerant bigot who longed for a dictatorship in Scotland. No! I would be a much less pleasant person to know but my national identity would be unaffected. It so happens I do believe in these four values as, I imagine, do the vast majority of my fellow Scots but we are not defined by these values.
Therefore, my Scottishness is undefinable – it just is – and, similarly, my Britishness just is.
The difficulty Straw has in describing how one should re-establish Britishness is like taking a cake, identifying the constituents and thinking simply by bringing the constituents together again a cake will magically appear. Baking doesn’t work this way and neither will attempts to impose national identity.
His task is made more difficult because he wants to define Britishness only because he sees Britishness as a way of minimising the impact of “… certain fringe minority Muslim groups”. If some in Britain already have religious or non-British identities no amount of detailing rights and responsibilities of being British; no amount of listing the values supporting Britishness (freedom, fairness, tolerance and plurality) will have an effect. For those who have another identity, the greater the difference between Britishness and the other identity the harder it will be for Britishness to get a foothold and attempting to force Britishness on them will meet only resistance.
If I were told that my Scottishness had to be subservient to my Britishness I couldn’t and wouldn’t do it. It isn’t as though I spend my time considering Scottishness – I rarely do - but asking me to relegate my Scottishness would be like asking me to give up my right hand so that my left hand became more important. I can’t because it’s part of me. Only by performing this simple thought experiment can I get an understanding of those for whom religion is more important than their Britishness and the difficulty they would have making their religion subservient to Britishness
Straw is right to highlight the problem but I feel his proposals are dangerous because they demand of people more than is reasonable and, therefore, could lead to even greater alienation and lack of Britishness. Doing nothing will not improve matters either. Unfortunately I believe no-one knows what has to be done. I certainly don’t but I am convinced that Straw’s suggestions would be counter-productive.